Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Coincidence In My Mind

94 years have come and gone now, and the white grave markers still
stand in military rows, in contrast to the manicured emerald green lawn
and bushes. Six American cemeteries from World War 1 dot the French
countryside, many of the cemeteries where the battlefields, so if they  
fell here, they were buried here.

I've seen pictures and film from World War 1 and these battlefields,
now cemeteries, looked like hell reincarnated, where thousand of
solders died a day. And now they are enclaves of peace and quiet
carved out of chaos and despair.

At in one of these cemeteries named Somme American Cemetery in
Bony, France lies my great uncle, Harry Small, Private U.S. Army
118th Infantry Regiment, 30th Division Entered Service from New
Jersey, Died Oct. 17, 1918 Buried at Plot D Row 16 Grave 11
And now I've just had this thought, he was 26 days to making it to
the end of the war, just 26 days, killed by a sniper.

In all these 94 years I wonder if anyone had visited, or laid down
flowers upon the ground, or took a knee and prayed a prayer, or
ran their fingers across his name. Sleep well Harry Small, sleep well.

And this should be the end of the story right,, not quite yet. You
see I have found a coincidence, a sequence of events that needs to be
mentioned. My great Uncle lived in Jersey City, New Jersey about 30
miles from New Brunswick, New Jersey and in New Brunswick was a
man by the name of Joyce Kilmer, a very well known poet who also
served in World War 1.

Now in France about thirty mile from Somme American Cemetery is
Oise-Aisne American Cemetery and in that cemetery at Plot B Row 9
Grave 15 is Joyce Kilmer, Sgt. Died: July 30, 1918 Killed by a sniper.
Now I know this is a far stretch, but my Great Uncle and Joyce
Kilmer lived 30 miles apart and are now buried 30 miles from each
from other. And they were both killed by a sniper. Then I started to
think, could they have been both killed by the same sniper? HEY...
its just a thought, and unprovable. anyway they didn't know each
other in life, at least I don't think so.

Bruce Knipp

Now everything from here down is from WIKIPEDIA
about Joyce Kilmer.

To commemorate the loss of 21 fellow soldiers of The Fighting Sixty Ninth, Kilmer composed the following poem which was read over their graves in March 1918. It is traditional in the regiment to read the poem at memorial services for fallen members of the regiment, adding their names to the list of the dead in the appropriate line, and it was read over his own grave five months after he wrote it:
In a wood they call the Rouge Bouquet
There is a new-made grave to-day,
Built by never a spade nor pick
Yet covered with earth ten metres thick.
There lie many fighting men,
Dead in their youthful prime,
Never to laugh nor love again
Nor taste the Summertime.
For Death came flying through the air
And stopped his flight at the dugout stair,
Touched his prey and left them there,
Clay to clay.
He hid their bodies stealthily
In the soil of the land they fought to free
And fled away.
Now over the grave abrupt and clear
Three volleys ring;
And perhaps their brave young spirits hear
The bugle sing:
“Go to sleep!
Go to sleep!
Slumber well where the shell screamed and fell.
Let your rifles rest on the muddy floor,
You will not need them any more.
Danger’s past;
Now at last,
Go to sleep!”
There is on earth no worthier grave
To hold the bodies of the brave
Than this place of pain and pride
Where they nobly fought and nobly died.
Never fear but in the skies
Saints and angels stand
Smiling with their holy eyes
On this new-come band.
St. Michael’s sword darts through the air
And touches the aureole on his hair
As he sees them stand saluting there,
His stalwart sons;
And Patrick, Brigid, Columkill
Rejoice that in veins of warriors still
The Gael’s blood runs.
And up to Heaven’s doorway floats,
From the wood called Rouge Bouquet,
A delicate cloud of buglenotes
That softly say:
Comrades true, born anew, peace to you!
Your souls shall be where the heroes are
And your memory shine like the morning-star.
Brave and dear,
Shield us here.