Just a quick post to give a shout-out to all our men and women in uniform, currently serving or with prior service. Be well, be safe, thanks to all my old shipmates for the camaraderie and everything I learned and gained from you.
Here’s a photo of my dad in WWII:
And this is my great-uncle Stephen, Dad’s uncle on his dad’s side. He was a medic in WWI.
Uncle Stephen’s brother Michael also served in the Great War, but to my knowledge there are no photos of him. He died in the Rouge Bouquet Bunker bombardment, part of the Fighting 69th, in which the poet Joyce Kilmer also served. After the war ended, Stephen went back to France to find his brother’s final resting place. A cousin of mine (second cousin) tells me he has been in touch with the 69th, and to this day, Kilmer’s poem is read at all military funerals of the members of the 69th. The movie, “The Fighting 69th” starring Jimmy Cagney, depicted this unit.
Here is the poem, for those who don’t click through to the site:
by Joyce Kilmer
In a wood they call Rouge Bouquet
There is a new-made grave today,
Built by never a spade nor pick
Yet covered with earth 10 meters thick.
There lie many fighting men,
Dead in their youthful prime,
Never to laugh nor love again
Nor taste the Summertime.
For Death came flying through the air
And stopped his flight at the dugout stair,
Touched his prey and left them there,
Clay to clay.
He hid their bodies stealthily
In the soil of the land they fought to free
And fled away.
Now over the grave abrupt and clear
Three volleys ring;
And perhaps their brave young spirits hear
The bugles sing:
“Go to sleep!
Go to sleep!
Slumber well where the shell screamed and fell.
Let your rifles rest on the muddy floor,
You will not need them any more.
Now at last,
Go to sleep!”
There is on earth no worthier grave
To hold the bodies of the brave
Than this place of pain and pride
Where they nobly fought and nobly died.
Never fear but in the skies
Saints and angels stand
Smiling with their holy eyes
On this new-come band.
St. Michael’s sword darts through the air
and touches the aureole on his hair
As he sees them stand saluting there,
His stalwart sons:
And Patrick, Brigid, Columkill
Rejoice that in veins of warriors still
The Gael’s blood runs.
And up to Heaven’s doorway floats,
From the wood called Rouge Bouquet,
A delicate cloud of bugle notes
That softly say:
Comrades true, born anew, peace to you!
Your souls shall be where the heroes are
And your memory shine like the morning-star.
Brave and dear,
Shield us here.