I wrote a poem in high school once. It was titled ‘Where The Water Runs Red’. It was about a young soldier who lay dying in a river. The long battle had gone through the night. Morning was beginning to break & he watched what he knew would be his last sunrise. His breath was shallow and the wounds were deep. A few tears escaped his eyes thinking of the woman he never loved and the child he never had. Dreams that would die with him this day. As he laid there he thought about what he was dying for. Freedom. Hope. A dream of justice for humanity. He knew no one would even know his name. Or what his last few minutes of life had been like. His heart was a little sad at the thought, but he looked around and saw hundreds of others dying a similar death. They were all just snapshots of a greater portrait. As his vision faded, he watched as his blood swirled with the chilly, pure water of the river… And thats how my poem ended.
It is one of my favorite things I have ever written. I bawled when I wrote it. Literally, I couldn’t stop crying. I just thought of all the people who have died similar deaths throughout history. Lonely, painful, yet deeply meaningful. They died not just to win a war, but to promote something greater than themselves.
In history class I would always think about my dad or brother when we studied battles. Imagining them in that place. I envisioned my brother when I wrote the poem in high school. They were all someone’s son or brother.
I love Memorial Day. What a powerful time to remember the genuine sacrifice of men, women and their families. Of generations. Heros no one ever knew the name of. Sometimes I wish that I could sit next to a dying soldier. Like the soldier I wrote about, and look him in the eyes. Tell him what a difference he made. I would want him to know that people may not know his name, but they will always remember his cause. Freedom. It’s a battle cry that will never die within the hearts of men.
I can’t visit the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC , or The Battle of Normandy in June of 1944. But I can remember the cause of freedom which they all fought for. I can carry it in my heart as well. Tomorrow is Memorial Day. I will remember. I will probably cry thinking of the sacrifice of others. Most of all I will honor those who fought with courage. Those who gave their lives for something greater. And I will pray. I will pray that God will give me the courage to live my life for something greater than myself.