It is for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to the cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.Embedding of this video is forbidden, but if you haven't seen Trace Adkin's "Arlington", it is well worth watching. Have a handkerchief handy before hitting "PLAY".
— Abraham Lincoln
We are all familiar with the great Veterans cemeteries in the U.S. such as Arlington or the huge D-Day cemetery in France where so many from the Normandy invasion lay at rest, but on Monday night your local PBS station will air "Hallowed Grounds". This documentary shows the price of that "last measure of devotion" as it tells the stories of the cemeteries located around the world where U.S. service men and women from two world wars are interred.
Once you have paid your respects in your own way, you might want to take time to remember the joys of life for yourself and how you might choose to be celebrated with this wonderful poem by Jake Thackray.
The Last Will and Testament
by Jake Thackray
I, the under-mentioned, by this document
Do declare my true intentions, my last will, my testament.
When I turn up my toes, when I rattle my clack, when I agonise,
I want no great wet weepings, no tearing of hair, no wringing of hands,
No sighs, no lack-a-days, no woe-is-me's and none of your sad adieus.
Go, go, go and get the priest and then go get the booze.
Death, where is thy victory? Grave, where is thy sting?
When I snuff it bury me quickly, then let carousels begin -
But not a do with a few ham sandwiches, a sausage roll or two and "A small port wine, please".
Roll the carpet right back, get cracking with your old Gay Gordons
And your knees up, shake it up, live it up, sup it up, hell of a kind of a time.
And if the coppers come around, well, tell them the party's mine.
Let best beef be eaten, fill every empty glass,
Let no breast be beaten, let no tooth be gnashed.
Don't bother with a fancy tombstone or a big-deal angel or a little copper flower pot:
Grow a dog-rose in my eyes or a pussy-willow
But no forget-me-nots, no epitaphs, no keepsakes; you can let my memory slip.
You can say a prayer or two for me soul then, but - make it quick.
Lady, if your bosom is heaving don't waste your bosom on me.
Let it heave for a man who's breathing, a man who can feel, a man who can see.
And to my cronies: you can read my books, you can drive around in my motor car.
And you can fish your trout with my fly and tackle, you can play on my guitar,
And sing my songs, wear my shirts. You can even settle my debts.
You can kiss my little missus if she's willing then, but - no regrets.
Your rosebuds are numbered;
Gather them now for rosebuds' sake.
And if your hands aren't too encumbered
Gather a bud or two for Jake.