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Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward, I've climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds-and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of-wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,
Where never lark, or even eagle, flew;
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
Special Note for High Flight:
During the Battle of Britain, many Americans crossed the border into Canada to enlist with the Royal Canadian Air Force ... they knowingly broke the law in order to fight Hitler's Germany.
John Gillespie Magee, Jr., born in Shanghai, China, in 1922. When Magee was just 18 years old, he entered flight training and was sent to England, on 30 June 1941. He flew the Spitfire being promoted to the rank of Pilot Officer. German bombers were crossing the English Channel regularly to attack Britain's cities and factories.
On September 3, 1941, Magee flew a Spitfire V test flight which inspired him to write his poem. That same day he wrote a letter to his parents which included this now famous poem. Three months later, on December 11, 1941 (three days after the US entered the war and four days after Pearl Harbor), John Gillespie Magee, Jr., was killed. He was just 19 years old. John Gillespie Magee, Jr. is at Scopwick, Lincolnshire, in a churchyard cemetery.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
Take up our quarrel with the foe!
Special Note for In Flanders Field
So, why the poppy? During the Napoleonic wars, it was observed that the fields were bright with colorful red poppies before a battle. Strangely enough, it was discovered that the bombardment of these fields helped the poppy to grow! John McCrae's poem became popular in 1915 and by 1918, Moina Michael began to weave poppies in remembrance of those who had died in WWI while working at the YMCA canteen. Madame Guerin learned of this in 1920 when she visited in New York from France. On her return home, she began making poppies to earn money for the children of veterans and the worn torn Europe. The USA tends to wear poppies on Memorial Day while other countries (e.g., Canada, etc.) wear them in November.
Rest ye in peace, ye Flanders dead.
The fight that ye so bravely led
We've taken up. And we will keep
True faith with you who lie asleep
With each a cross to mark his bed,
In Flanders fields.
Fear not that ye have died for naught.
The torch ye threw to us we caught.
Ten million hands will hold it high,
And Freedom's light shall never die!
We've learned the lesson that ye taught
In Flanders fields.
The things that make a soldier great and send him out to die,
To face the flaming cannon's mouth nor ever question why,
Are lilacs by a little porch, the row of tulips red,
The peonies and pansies, too, the old petunia bed,
The grass plot where his children play, the roses on the wall:
'Tis these that make a soldier great.
He's fighting for them all.
'Tis not the pomp and pride of kings that make a soldier brave;
'Tis not allegiance to the flag that over him may wave;
For soldiers never fight so well on land or on the foam
As when behind the cause they see the little place called home.
Endanger but that humble street whereon his children run,
You make a soldier of the man who never bore a gun.
What is it through the battle smoke the valiant soldier sees?
The little garden far away, the budding apple trees,
The little patch of ground back there, the children at their play,
Perhaps a tiny mound behind the simple church of gray.
The golden thread of courage isn't linked to castle dome
But to the spot, where'er it be the humblest spot called home.
And now the lilacs bud again and all is lovely there
And homesick soldiers far away know spring is in the air;
The tulips come to bloom again, the grass once more is green,
And every man can see the spot where all his joys have been.
He sees his children smile at him, he hears the bugle call,
And only death can stop him now he's fighting for them all.
Nobody packed in a dainty trunk
Nobody gave him a good-by fete,
Nobody cared how the battle went,
The cool rain bathed the fevered wound,
Such help as the knife of the surgeon gives,
What matter how he served the guns
What matters though a wife and child
O patriotic hearts, wipe out this stain;
Shout long and loud for victory won
He went to the war while his blood was hot,
He offered himself, but his wife did more,
He gave up his life at his country's call,
Above the sterile furrows war
It sang and pain and death
Under General Greene, in South Carolina,
who fell in the action of September 8, 1781
AT Eutaw Springs the valiant died;
If in this wreck or ruin, they
Thou, who shalt trace this bloody plain,
Stranger, their humble graves adorn;
They saw their injured country's woe;
Led by thy conquering genius, Greene,
But, like the Parthian, famed of old,
Now rest in peace, our patriot band,
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