5 Honorable Memorial Day Poems With Themes To Honor Those Who Fought For Our Country
These poems on war are engaging, powerful verses that illuminate the ugly side of conflict, but recognize those who sacrificed for their country.
Poetry is an unmatched medium in expressing a gamut of emotions and experiences, including those of war. Over the years, poets have penned thousands of verses on various aspects of conflict, from tales of bravery and heroism to the horrors of war and its impact on the homefront.
Poems on war have the power to honor veterans, bring insight into peace, and help individuals deal with the loss and grief of war. In this post, we’ll showcase some historical poems that hold resonance today.
Honoring Veterans and Patriotic Themes
Poems on war have a long history of honoring veterans and the patriotic spirit of a nation. Through poems, soldiers and civilians alike can find solace and strength in the sacrifices of those who fought for their nations.
For many veterans, especially those who fought in unpopular wars, hearing or reading patriotic poems can help assuage feelings of isolation and feelings that their service went unappreciated.
Famous poems like In Flanders Field by John McCrae is one of the most well-known verses that capture the essence of selflessness and patriotism.
Here’s the poem:
“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.”
War and Peace
Poems on war also serve as a stark reminder of the contrast between war and peace. Not only do they highlight the horrors of war, but they also emphasize the importance of working toward peace.
Poets like Lord Alfred Tennyson, Robert Frost, and Wilfred Owen wrote poems that were not war-hungry, but rather highlighted the futility of war and emphasized the need for ending the cycle of violence and destruction.
Frost, in particular, focused on ideas of courage and gallantry in his early poems, writing poems like Trial by Existence, in which he emphasized the importance of bravery. Here’s an excerpt:
“Even the bravest that are slain
Shall not dissemble their surprise
On waking to find valor reign
Even as on earth, in paradise.”
Loss, Grief, and Work on the Homefront During War
In addition to honoring veterans and bringing insight into peace, poems on war also deal with the losses and grief that come with conflict. War not only causes death and destruction on the battlefield but also brings immense suffering on the homefront.
Classical poets like Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson wrote about the loss of loved ones, the emotional upheaval of separation, and the burden of keeping the home fires burning while soldiers were away at war.
Dickinson penned It Feels a Shame to Be Alive during the height of the Civil War:
“It feels a shame to be Alive—
When Men so brave—are dead—
One envies the Distinguished Dust—
Permitted—such a Head—
The Stone—that tells defending Whom
This Spartan put away
What little of Him we—possessed
In Pawn for Liberty—
The price is great—Sublimely paid—
Do we deserve—a Thing—
That lives—like Dollars—must be piled
Before we may obtain?
Are we that wait—sufficient worth—
That such Enormous Pearl
As life—dissolved be—for Us—
In Battle’s—horrid Bowl?”
Poems on war provide us with historical insight into the events and lives surrounding wars. Historical poetry helps us understand the context of conflicts and adds to our collective memory of war.
Some poems provide an account of battles or conflicts, while others reflect on wartime experiences in a more abstract manner.
For example, The Charge of the Light by Alfred, Lord Tennyson describes a heroic but ultimately doomed charge during the Crimean War, while A War Film by Vernon Scannell discussing the disparity between the sanitized version of war and its brutal reality.
These Memorial Day poems on war are a testament to our shared human experience. Through these verses, we honor veterans, reflect on the pain and grief of war, and work to avoid future conflicts. Poems on war bring insight and awareness into the impact that conflict has on the lives of those involved.
Let’s celebrate the beauty and power these top Memorial Day poems and use them as a tool to bring compassion into our world with understanding and respect for the veterans who served.