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Jack Woodville London’s French Letters series has been praised for its meticulous historical research and ability to capture the language, attitudes, and moral culture of their setting in prose described by reviewers as “beautiful, but not pretentious.”
French Letters: Engaged in War is the second volume in the French Letters trilogy. The companion to French Letters: Virginia’s War, it is the story of Will Hastings, an army doctor caught up in the D-Day landings in Normandy and the drive to capture St. Lo, France.
A three day weekend
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.
John McCrae shared this lament for the friend he watched die in battle the day before. Like him, we honored our citizen sacrifices on May 30 every year, those men who gave everything at Antietam and Gettysburg, at San Juan and Chateau-Thierry, on Peleliu and Inchon. We took poppies to the graves of those we lost in New York and Washington and in a lonely field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, those who died in Fallujah and in al Nasariyah. We mourn at the tombs of women from Avenger Field who died delivering our warplanes in 1944 and of graves of those who nursed us at DaNang and in Bosnia.
But it seems, somehow, that something has changed.
Instead of memorializing May 30, the day of reunification at the end of our civil war, Memorial Day now is the last Monday in May. That way we can enjoy a three day weekend. A bonus time off from work that makes it easier to enjoy the movies. Memorial Day Sales for tires and sofas and flat screen televisions. Low interest rates for every car on the lot. Take the family to a restaurant. I have seen a lot of Memorial Day sales advertised.
The only thing that I haven’t seen yet, one week out, is a sale on poppies.
Perhaps they are so expensive that few are willing, now, to pay their price. Perhaps I just don’t know where to look anymore.
In any event, next weekend, when there are three days to it, in addition to telling your boss ‘thank you’ for the extra day, take some time to say thank you for all those who made your weekend possible. They won’t get three days off.
Jack Woodville London