Monday, May 26, 2014
This post was first published on May 26, 2013.
Memorial Day was an emotional holiday for Mr. Stewart, my high school
Social Studies teacher. Mid-way through the class before Memorial Day,
he would wrap up the class topic and talk about being in the war and the
importance of honoring our military and the sacrifices they made.
In anticipation of what we knew was coming next, the class would begin
to snicker as tears welled up in his eyes and he struggled to maintain his
composure. Then, very solemnly and respectfully, he would recite the poem,
High Flight written by John Magee who, in 1941 at the age of 19 was killed in
a mid-air collision a few months after writing this poem.
Now that I am certainly older and hopefully wiser, I think about Mr. Stewart
and this poem, and I am the one who gets misty-eyed.
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air....
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
- Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
This Memorial Day, take a moment to remember all the people who
sacrificed so much for those who came after them.