23 May 2009

Manic Monday - Memorial

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.
— Abraham Lincoln

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".

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.


maryt/theteach said...

Aw, Jamie, all those lovely men and women who have died defending our country - it's very sad! I hope we get out of Iraq and Afghanistan NOW! :)

Linda said...

I will definitely try to remember watching this on Monday evening.

I spent some time in a smaller cemetery this past Friday; my post about it will be up on Monday.

Hope you're enjoying your Memorial Day weekend!

carol g said...

Very, very nice tribute. Thank you. My Manic Monday post is up also.

keyboard.jockey said...


I left my link on manic monday but it doesn't seem to let you past html links?


anthonynorth said...

A humbling post. In the UK we remember the war dead on 11 November. The Sunday following, the Royal family, all political party leaders, the military hierarchy, representatives from all faiths and the Commonwealth commissioners gather by the Cenotaph in London for a poignant wreath laying ceremony.
Throughout the world the War Graves Commission maintains hundreds of cemeteries where British soldiers fell.

Travis said...

"Once you have paid your respects in your own way..."

I can always count on you to understand that the way we remember is not as important as the act of remembering.

This is a wonderful tribute you have. We've got the Hallowed Grounds program tonight at 10pm.

Those that made the ultimate sacrifice have my eternal gratitude.