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The Unknown Soldier: A Little Flower in the Rain

My mother, Joan, wrote about the Unknown Soldier in a poem from late May 1937 when she was 14 years old.  You can trace her progress from experience–visiting the statue to an unknown doughboy in World War I as described in her diary–to her creation of a poem in honor of him.

Sunday May 30, 1937 (age 14)

This is Memorial Day and it rained.   Daddy and I went out for a walk and when it rained went under a tree near the statue of the Unknown Soldier. He looked so lonely there in the rain (the Soldier, I mean) and there wasn’t even a wreath to mark the day. It seemed so pitiful. So I picked a little flower from the tree and ran in the rain to lay it at his feet. And I’m sure he knew I did it and was glad that someone remembered him on this day. It was only a little flower but I’m sure it meant as much as a wreath. I’m glad I did it as I’m sure the Soldier is…

                        In Memoriam

         The sky is dark, it’s raining now

         I cannot sleep — stare out the window

         But think of the country he died to save

         They call this day Memorial Day.

7297041

The Doughboy at its original location in Garfield Park, 1939.

  I think of him standing bright in the rain

         Finding at last what he sought to attain

         With the wonder lurking still in his eyes

         He who loved life had found death his prize.

         Sinking alone in the mud he died

         And sure, he had a nobler pride

         In loving the land he came to save

         Dying alone so brightly and brave

         While the rain beat down on the Earth.

         I went to the statue of him today

         And the rain beat down in the same old way

         And in his eyes there was great surprise

And he still looked lonely and brave in the rain,

But the flower is stayed there where it shall remain

Till Memorial Day comes around again.

I went again today to see

The statue of him who had died for me.

The flower was beaten close to the ground

And the rain beat again with a steady pound.

               There was no wreath laid at his feet

               And the rain beat down with a steady beat.

               And his face looked noble and full of pride

               And bewilderment as when he died.

               The drenching rain made my face all wet

               And tears were mingled that all should forget,

               He looked so lonely and brave in the rain

               I thought he must be alive again.

               Was there none to honor him once again?

               It was only twenty years ago,

               How could the world have forgotten him so?

               And he sank down in the roaring din

               While Earth gathered him in.

               He should not go unhonored today

               I plucked a flower from where it lay

               Glistening and trembling with drops of rain

               One should honour him once again.

               I laid the flower down beside

               The statue of him who had bravely died.

               And his face looked brighter, the sun started to shine

               I’m sure he was glad I remembered his shrine.

               The sun burst out in bright array

               That one should remember Memorial Day.

 

 

2 responses »

  1. Frank Galbraith

    Susan, Please keep up this GOOD deed you are doing by telling us more things about Joan. I am 75 years old but her insights still sincerely touch me. I appreciate what you do to keep her memory alive. God bless you. Frank Galbraith Knoxville, Tennessee

    Reply

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