Friday, June 21, 2024

On Memorial Day, remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice

By Ken Kendall

As you make your Memorial Day plans, I hope you will remember that it is more than just another time to have a cookout or play golf.

I hope you will also remember it as a time to reflect on the sacrifices made by the thousands of soldiers who have fought and died to give us our freedom.

One of my favorite poems has become almost synonymous with Memorial Day. Titled “High Flight,” it was written by John Gillespie Magee Jr., a young American who joined the Royal Canadian Air Force even before the U.S. became involved in the war. A year and a half later, in 1941, Magee was killed in action over England. He was just 19.

This poem says so much about life and dreams and living that I wanted you to read it and enjoy it as I have. I hope you have a safe and enjoyable holiday!

High Flight

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 windswept 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.

— Lt. John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
No. 412 Squadron, RCAF



This column was originally published in the May 2009 issue of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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