I grew up on Joyce Kilmer Avenue in New Brunswick, NJ.
Joyce Kilmer, famous poet, was born, and lived for a few years on the street that would one day bear his name. That was pretty convenient, looking back at it. His actual name was Alfred Joyce Kilmer, but he chose to go by Joyce. Yeah, it was a different time. His father was Dr. Fred Kilmer, the inventor of Johnson's Baby Powder.
Joyce Kilmer was a Sgt in the US military in WWI, and was recommended to be an officer with another unit. His regiment, known as a great fighting unit, saw a lot of action, and he said he preferred to remain a Sgt with them, than to be an officer with another. This decision probably cost him his life as he was shot by a sniper while on patrol, and Sgt Kilmer was killed in action at age 31. Today, his home serves as a small museum, and has some county offices in it, though when I was a kid, it was used by the VFW or American Legion, I forget which, as a meeting place.
His most famous work was Trees. But he did write a nice poem for Memorial Day about a hundred years ago, and it's appropriate to post it today in memory of Sgt Kilmer and everyone who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
by Joyce Kilmer
The bugle echoes shrill and sweet,
But not of war it sings to-day.
The road is rhythmic with the feet
Of men-at-arms who come to pray.
The roses blossom white and red
On tombs where weary soldiers lie;
Flags wave above the honored dead
And martial music cleaves the sky.
Above their wreath-strewn graves we kneel,
They kept the faith and fought the fight.
Through flying lead and crimson steel
They plunged for Freedom and the Right.
May we, their grateful children, learn
Their strength, who lie beneath this sod,
Who went through fire and death to earn
At last the accolade of God.In shining rank on rank arrayed
They march, the legions of the Lord;
He is their Captain unafraid,
The Prince of Peace...
Who brought a sword.