Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day

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.

Memorial Day
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.



A New Yorker said...

May our country wake up from the nightmare of groupspeak and brainwashed nastiness of hate toward one another and remember what these men lost their lives for.

Secondary Roads said...

May their blood-bought peace endure.

Moonrayvenne said...

Great post! It really sums up the meaning of the day.

Anonymous said...

Nice post DOM. Very nice. *smile*

memphisdonna said...

Happy Memorial Day, Joe!! And a big thank you to all of our brave troops past, present and future.

Unknown said...

Very nice Joe. What a tribute.

Lin said...

Lovely poem. How I wish I was at Arlington today.

Unknown said...

Great poem!!! I especially liked the last line, "The Prince of Peace...Who brought a sword."

By the way, I wonder if the great Johnny Cash song, "A Boy Named Sue," was at least partially inspired by Kilmer? For he had to be tough with a first name of Joyce.

Anonymous said...

Lovely - thank you.

Unknown said...

Great post and very informative. I didn't know that about Kilmer's father. I have an old hymnal that has a hymn in it dedicated to Joyce Kilmer and the dedication includes details of his death.

brokenteepee said...

Happy Memorial Day.
The publicist lost an Uncle in Viet Nam - her mother's only brother.
Her brother was in the Navy on a submarine -he is 6'4". He hit his head a lot. But he was a little goofy BEFORE he went in....

Mr. Condescending said...

Crotchety old man, those are some fine words. Try not to be too crotchety today.

Nate Fakes said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing.

Chris said...

I grew up in Middlesex Borough, and I remember a Camp Kilmer around there. I'm assuming it was named for the same guy?

Very poignant post, Ol' Man. Thanks.

Unknown said...

beautiful tribute!

nonamedufus said...

Solemn words for a solemn day, DOM. Most appropriate and thought-provoking.

Winky Twinky said...

Thanks for sharing that poem, it is very appropriate and poignant for today...and we can never be reminded too much of what our freedoms cost... and I'll add my appreciation to all those who served on all levels, and especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

ReformingGeek said...

Very honorable, Crotchety!

Marie said...

Lovely post Joe, thanks so much.