In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
Those haunting words were written by Dr. John McCrea, battlefield surgeon for the 1st Brigade of Canadian Artillery during World War I. McCrea was killed in action soon after he used the tools of a poet to capture a universal soldier's emotions.
McCrea served in a conflict President Woodrow Wilson said was the war to end all wars. He was wrong. But in 1918, the guns fell silent across Europe's scarred landscape on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11 month.
Veterans Day -- once called Armistice Day -- is the anniversary of that event. And Sunday marks 94 years since the war to end all wars ended.
Take up your quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
The day now honors veterans who served in all of America's wars, and there have been many. The names of the places they fought echo down to us like distant drumrolls: Saratoga, Yorktown, Bull Run, Shiloh, Gettysburg, Chateau-Thierry, Verdun, Kasserine Pass, the beaches of Normandy, Korea, Vietnam, the storm in the desert, and, most recently, Iraq and Afghanistan.
If ye break faith with us who die
There is great danger in glorifying war. Those who have seen its horror, its brutality and its waste will tell you that.
The late Earl Stock Jr. of Fort Plain, who served as national commander-in-chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, once said in an interview that he'd like to see the organization he headed fade away -- just like an old soldier. He wanted no more wars so there could be no new members. His observation was poignant and insightful.
Although war shouldn't be glorified, there is an obligation to pay homage to the men and women who served when their country called. Veterans in the Mohawk Valley and across the nation have been holding commemorative services this week. In Amsterdam, there is a parade and ceremony Sunday morning. The parade forms at 9:30 a.m. on Henrietta Boulevard and steps off at 10 a.m. It will end at the West End memorial, where a ceremony will take place at 11 a.m.
Please take time this weekend to remember the sacrifices others have made for you. The price of forgetting is too high.