21 April 2008

Remembering the Fallen~

I watched the movie ‘My Boy Jack’ (PBS) on Sunday night. Jack was the son of Rudyard Kipling and his wife. At the insistence of and the help of his father Jack was finally able to enlist in the British Army and became an officer. It was during World War I (1915) when England was fighting against Germany in France. After only three weeks Jack was killed in battle at the young age of eighteen. The Kiplings had already suffered the lost of a daughter years before this tragedy occurred. Their grief was overwhelming. In 1916 Kipling’s Sea Warfare was published and contained therein was an emotional poem about his son Jack. Personally I was moved by this story of one of my favorite poets, especially in the death of his son Jack. I could not help but to think of another young man whose life was taken while fighting against the Germans in World War II. And before I present this poem I want to relate the following.

Our oldest son Tim informed us by email that he would be in Washington D.C. this coming weekend. He also mentioned the monument that was finally erected in that city and honors the men and women who died during World War II. I was able to pull up on the internet information about the names listed of the ones who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country and I found the name of my oldest brother Walter M. Elliott. It only stated that he was from Georgia and that he was buried in a cemetery in a foreign country. Martin, as he was called by his parents and siblings, was only eighteen years old when he was sent by our government to England and eventually to Belgium and Germany where he and thousands of other teenagers became engaged in actual combat. Martin celebrated his nineteenth birthday anniversary in March of 1945. He was killed on April 5 of that year in northwest Germany. The war ended in May of 1945. Many have been the times that I have thought, if only.... I was ten years old when he died. I still remember so well when my father came walking up the hill to our home and announced through his tears that Martin had been killed. I remember also the overwhelming sorrow that filled our hearts for many years. But I am sure that my mother and father suffered the most. The cost of war is not found in the amount of money spent; rather it is in the cost of human lives that are sacrificed for a cause. The poem written by Rudyard Kipling could be dedicated to all who have suffered the lost of a loved one in any war.

“Have you news of my boy Jack?”
Not this tide.
“When d’you think that he’ll come back?”
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.
“Has any one else had word of him?”
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing and this tide.
“Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?”
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he didn’t shame his kind
Not even with that wind blowing and that tide.
Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide,
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!

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