Honoring those who are lost by seeking peace

Posted: 05/29/2022 12:34:14 Modified: 05/29/2022 12:32:12 The poem “In Flanders Fields” honors those who died during the First Worl...



Posted: 05/29/2022 12:34:14

Modified: 05/29/2022 12:32:12

The poem “In Flanders Fields” honors those who died during the First World War. Written by Canadian physician, Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, it reads “We are the dead. A few days ago. We have lived, felt the dawn, seen the sunset shine, Loved and been loved, and now we lie, In the fields of Flanders.

McCrae served in the Flanders region of Belgium and saw the horror of war lose his close friend, Alexis Helmer, in the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915. This tragedy inspired McCrae to write “In Flanders Fields” . He saw red flowers, called poppies, growing rapidly over the battle burial grounds. The opening of the poem reads “In the fields of Flanders, the poppies blow between the crosses, row upon row.”

McCrae initially dropped the poem, thinking it was not worth it. His fellow soldiers encouraged him not to give up on his writing, which was emotionally powerful. McCrae’s poem is now timeless and is widely read on Memorial Day in honor of those lost in all wars.

My great-uncle, Ira Pitzer of the US Army, also became a victim of World War I. He died just eight days before the armistice of 1918. A line of McCrae’s poem, written from the perspective of fallen soldiers, tells the living to continue their mission, “To you, failing hands, we throw the torch; be yours to hold it high.

And that mission now is to seek the “lost peace” that never came after World War I. Soldiers, like my great-uncle, who fought so bravely in “The War to End All Wars,” wanted to achieve a lasting peace. This peace is still lacking as the wars continue. Will humanity ever learn that war is not the answer? We must continue the struggle to end all wars.

We can honor our lost loved ones on Memorial Day by seeking that elusive peace. We must encourage our leaders to be peacemakers, to work harder to end existing conflicts and prevent future ones. We desperately need to end the war in Ukraine, where civilians are dying and millions have been displaced after the Russian invasion.

For Memorial Day, we can save many lives by donating. I remember the story of a woman from Ohio who wanted to buy flowers to mourn someone she had lost. But instead, she chose to donate to the Belgian Relief Commission during World War I. This charity fed the starving Belgians who were trapped by the fighting between the Allies and the German-led Central Powers. She honored her loved one by saving a life. What a powerful declaration of love and peace.

Feeding a hungry child on Remembrance Day is appropriate for this year’s remembrance. Because right now, the war in Ukraine has put millions of people around the world in danger of starvation. Ukraine’s wheat, which feeds the world, is trapped in ports besieged by Russia.

There are also major food emergencies in Yemen, Somalia, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Afghanistan and many other countries. But relief organizations have neither the funds nor the supplies to feed them. Children are starving in these countries.

We can save many lives by donating on Remembrance Day to hunger relief charities such as the World Food Programme, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, Save the Children, Mary’s Meals, UNICEF or Edesia. What a fitting tribute to those we have lost is to save a life on Memorial Day. And we must pursue the mission of finding lasting peace and ending all wars.

William Lambers is the author of “The Road to Peace” and partnered with the United Nations World Food Program on the book “Ending World Hunger”. His writing has appeared in the Washington Post, Chicago Sun-Times, History News Network, Newsweek, and many other outlets.



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