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In Flanders Fields

While in the United States, poppies are traditionally worn on Memorial Day, in many of the British Commonwealth countries, they are worn on Remembrance Day, 11 November, to commemorate the end of WW1. Here’s the story of the poem that began the drive toward the adoption of the poppy as a symbol of remembrance.

The Chaplain Kit

IN FLANDERS FIELDS POEM
The World’s Most Famous WAR MEMORIAL POEM
By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

(Composed at the battlefront on May 3, 1915
during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium)

On May 2, 1915, John McCrae’s close friend and former student Alexis Helmer was killed by a German shell. That evening, in…

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A Chaplain’s Reflection on 9/11

Many men and women joined the military following -and because of- the attack on the United States on 11 September 2001. There are many stories that came out of the 9/11 attacks, here’s one chaplain’s…

The Chaplain Kit

September 11, 2001 began like any other day for me. I wasn’t a chaplain yet, but was a pastor at a civilian church in Upstate New York. It was a Tuesday, so I was meeting with men from the church for breakfast at the Corner Cafe just a few miles down State Highway 96 from my church in Clifton Springs, New York.

The breakfast for us was uneventful.  As I recall, there were just a few who showed up this particular week, but we enjoyed a great breakfast and good conversation as we always did. Eventually it was down to just Cliff and I finishing our coffee before we left, when another patron mentioned that a plane had run into the World Trade Center. I found that a bit hard to believe and Cliff and I exchanged looks of disbelief. I finished my coffee and headed home, only mildly curious what may…

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A Prayer of Benediction for Chaplain Dale Goetz

Nine years ago (30 August 2010), Chaplain Dale Goetz was killed in Afghanistan ministering to his Soldiers. Not wanting to forget his sacrifice, I’m reposting this short prayer I prayed at a Memorial Ceremony for him at the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School.

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FT. JACKSON, SC (3 Sep 10) – Recently, the Chaplain Corps lost one of its finest chaplains, Chaplain (CPT) Dale Goetz, in Afghanistan. We received the news here at the Chaplain School while attending the Chaplain Captain’s Career Course. Since many of us knew Dale, and the rest of us felt the camaraderie of a “Brother in Arms,” we felt it appropriate to have a Memorial Service for him. My part was to pray the benediction. As I prepared the prayer, I felt very impressed that Dale needed to be remembered. His sacrifice needed to be remembered. As I post it here, I pray it again . . .

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Our most Gracious God and Father,

We thank you for your presence and love which helps us to endure through difficult times. We thank you for moments like these when we don’t have to be alone but can gather among brothers and sisters in the faith. We thank you for the peace that you have brought us today, your peace—that can exist within us even when all around us there is no peace.

As much as you comfort us who have gathered here today, we pray that in an even greater measure you will comfort Dale’s family, especially his wife Christy and their three sons Landon, Caleb and Joel. Be for them all that they need you to be just now and continue to provide for them in every way in the days, weeks, months and years ahead that they face life without their husband, father and son.

Finally Lord, we pray that you will bring real peace to our land, so that we can rest in safety and comfort and not have to send our sons and daughters into harm’s way. Bring to us, we humbly ask you, the time when parents don’t have to grieve the loss of their children killed in war; hasten the day when spouses don’t have to say goodbye to their loved ones because they serve their country; provide for us, dear Father, a world whose children do not have to grow up fatherless because of the sin that envelopes us; and be victorious, Almighty God, over the Evil One, establish your Kingdom on Earth finally and forever, that we may enjoy your loving and peaceful presence for all eternity.

Go with us now, Lord we pray, as we reluctantly return to the world out there. Please don’t let us soon forget our brother Dale but help us to honor his sacrifice through our lives lived for your glory and Christ’s life lived through us.

“May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Heb 13:20-21)

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A Brief History of Memorial Day

Oise-Aisne WW1 American Cemetery

Oise-Aisne WW1 American Cemetery in France (photo by Daryl Densford, August 2007)

Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.

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