National Poetry Month: In Flanders Fields

I took an International Politics class this semester. During the short time my mindset on the US involvement in foreign affairs has changed.

Yesterday, the US military carried out an airstrike in Syria in retaliation for the Syrian president attacking his own citizens with chemical weapons. This hasn’t been the first airstrike carried out against another country and it won’t be the last. We’re too involved in other people’s conflicts, sometimes for a worthy end but mostly to be a distraction from the problems here at home. Case in point, bomb Syria so that the news cycle will focus on that and ignore the likely fact that a Supreme Court justice will be selected without the traditional majority vote.

It was the first world war where the United States started looking to become a power player on an international stage. The US had been involved in foreign affairs before. We acquired American Samoa through armed conflict. We occupied the Philippines until 1946. But it was WWI where President Wilson decided that the US could become a power player. Yesterday marked the 100th anniversary of the United States entering the Great War.

There’s a poem that reflects on the soldiers lost during the first world war. It’s a poem I’ve always teared up over because it strikes in my soul the devastating consequences and the meaningless of war.

“In Flanders Fields” — John McCrae

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.


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