Remembrance: How Martial Artists Can Learn from the Fallen

Memorial Day. Remembrance Day. Decoration Day. These are the names given to national celebrations of fallen soldiers around the world. We want to celebrate our heroes, tell their stories, make them immortal. We will not forget.

The poem “In Flanders Fields,” by British surgeon and World War I veteran John McCrae, honors all these themes.

“In Flanders Fields” by 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.

The poem speaks with the voice of a soldier who’s gone, but who looks to the future. A soldier that calls on us to act for good, to hold ground for truth, to fight its enemy in honor of the dead. The flowers grow up from the grave, but the soldier can’t sleep unless from his or her fallen hands we take up the torch.

Grandmaster Jhoon Rhee called it “Might for Right.” You’re joining the ranks on your journey to Black Belt.

A local project moving forward in honor of Colorado soldiers killed in battle is the Colorado Fallen Heroes Memorial. Visit the site and read their stories.

Army Private First Class Henry Risner from Golden, who hoped to be a firefighter after his military career, was “described as someone who would help anyone in need.”

Littleton’s Michael Vandegrift, First Lieutenant with the U.S. Marines, was known for “…working hard and putting others first.”

Army Specialist Joshua R. Campbell’s father said “[Joshua] loved [the Army], the camaraderie, the purpose, protecting his country. He’d do anything for anybody.”

These are the qualities we strive for as Black Belts. We can’t bring back the dead. But we can decorate their good deeds by doing good ourselves. Here’s to all the fallen. We remember you.

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