I love memorization. It helps that I have a gift for it. My brother and I quizzed each other on trivia while falling asleep in our triple bunk beds in Nebraska. The category might be state capitals or singers- no matter. I've never liked cards or board games but I was good at Trivial Pursuit. When I started teaching, I decided my students would memorize. Memorization has fallen out of academic favor but I believe it's good for students. As a history and government instructor, there was plenty of material to conquer. We learned the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, the preamble to the Constitution, and the Gettysburg Address. When I became a Bible teacher, I shifted the emphasis to old hymns, like God Moves In A Mysterious Way, and Scripture texts. Fifteen percent of each student's six weeks grade will come from memory work. My 8th graders like the hymns better than the Bible verses- they rhyme!
Today is Veterans Day but few of my students will be aware of it. They know Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Easter, and the 4th of July but they don't have a clue about Memorial Day, Labor Day, or Veterans Day. This holiday was once called Armistice Day, marking the end of fighting in World War I. As a youngster, I remember the vets in my hometown would sell orange poppies this time of year. That made a tremendous impression on me. It sparked my interest in what I believe is the finest poem ever penned about death and duty:
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.
That poem, In Flanders Fields, was written by Dr. John McCrae, a Canadian army officer and himself a veteran of the great conflict. These three stanzas describe a military cemetery in Waereghem, Belgium where casualties of "the War to end all wars" are interred. History books give war casualty totals: McCrae gave nameless statistics a voice that my students could, in a sense, hear and maybe even mourn. More commenting by me would simply be wasted words. McCrae's lines stand by themselves.
Let us be grateful to all the men and women who have fought to preserve our precious freedoms throughout the past 200 plus years. Let us thank the Lord we can live our lives freely, especially enjoying the right to worship without threats or government directives. Let us pray these rights continue. On this day, please lift a special prayer for the many thousands who are overseas and in harms way. Their loved ones will be praying.
Applicable quote of the day:
"In war, there are no unwounded soldiers."
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org