JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — The Wars, Remembered On Memorial Day


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.

Lt. Col. John McCrae
Lt. Col. John McCrae

On this Memorial Day, we pause to remember those who lie “in Flanders Fields.” Many, if not most, American families can count someone from the “war dead” among their family members. For me, it is my uncle, and namesake, Carlyle James Fuglie, killed in World War II.

“In Flanders Fields” is a poem written in 1915 by a Canadian doctor and soldier, Lt. Col. John McCrae who, according to legend, took pen in hand after presiding over the funeral of a friend who had died in battle in France. It is certainly one of the most quoted wartime poems ever written.

Lt. Col. Paul S. Bliss
Lt. Col. Paul S. Bliss

But there’s another I want to share with you, another from World War I, which has been compared favorably with McCrae’s poem. It’s by another lieutenant colonel who served in that war, this one an American, named Paul Southworth Bliss.

Some of you will recognize that name. I’ve written about him before. He’s a transplanted North Dakotan who came here in the 1930s, long after serving his country in France, likely not far from Lt. Col. McCrae. Bliss was a prolific poet after his war years, publishing seven books of his poems, mostly written in North Dakota. Lillian and I have written a biography of him, which is in a publisher’s hands right now. We hope to be able to share it with the world soon. You can get a sneak preview here and here.

Here’s Bliss’s poem, “Good Aire.”


By Paul Southworth Bliss

The Aire runs deep today

Past Grand Pre and Chatel,

Where wounded comrades lay

After their taste of hell.

It rose as comes a sigh

At heaving of the breast,

It watched them nobly die

And bore them to their rest.

Flow on, good Aire, and ease

The Argonne’s tortured side,

For yet beneath its trees

Some fighting men abide.

Bliss wrote that poem after the war. But he wrote another war poem, this one while he was still in France, near the battlefields, as the war was winding down. It was published in a book he also wrote, a history of his regiment in the war. It was his first published poem. It seems appropriate on this Memorial Day, more than 100 years later.


By Major Paul S. Bliss

When the bugles blow again,

Across the misty fields —

For silently they long have lain,

Their lips by orders sealed —

I know that all is well with us,

That war and death are o’er

That soon I’ll hear a mother’s voice,

Sweet, as in days of yore.

When the bugles blow again,

As clear as Sabbath bells,

I know that fever, cold and pain,

And gas, and mud, and bursting shells

Are memories: that we have won!

That ne’er again shall we go forth

Full battle fledged to fight the Huns

Though mindful evil’s still on earth.

When the bugles blow again —

Revell-y, taps, tattoo—

 The notes as sweet as summer rain,

So clearly phrased, a-new

Stir in my heart a love of life,

A fierce, long hope, and I

Who laughed at flame and shot and knife,

No longer wish to die.

When the bugles blow again,

The echo comes from you,

Across the land, across the plain,

To tell me you are true.

Bugles that erstwhile sounded strife,

Sound with the same notes, home;

Sound with the same notes, life;

Sound with the same notes, home.

FOOTNOTE: You might see a lot of folks wearing little red flowers on their lapels today. Poppies. The poppies that McCrae referred to in his poem, which grew profusely in the early days of Worl War I in the area of northern France and southern Belgium referred to as “Flanders,” in which many battles were fought. There is a Flanders Field American Cemetery and Memorial located in Waregem, West Flanders, Belgium. It is one of eight overseas World War I cemeteries designed and administered by the American Battle Monuments Commission, a federal agency created in 1923. My friend, Darrell Dorgan, a Vietnam veteran, is a member of that commission, appointed by President Biden. He’s going there next week to represent the commission on the 80th anniversary of D-Day. Many soldiers wrote home about the poppies of Flanders, and some sent poems, including this one by another Army Lieutenant Colonel, W. Campbell Gabraith.


By Lt. CoL. W. Campbell Galbraith

I’ve seen them in the morning light,
When white mists drifted by.
I’ve seen them in the dusk o’ night
Glow ‘gainst the starry sky.
The slender waving blossoms red,
Mid yellow fields forlorn.
A glory on the scene they shed,
Red Poppies in the Corn.

I’ve seen them, too, those blossoms red,
Show ‘gainst the Trench lines’ screen.
A crimson stream that waved and spread
Thro’ all the brown and green.
I’ve seen them dyed a deeper hue
Than ever nature gave,
Shell-torn from slopes on which they grew
To cover many a grave.

Bright blossoms fair by nature set
Along the dusty ways,
You cheered us, in the battle’s fret,
Thro’ long and weary days.
You gave us hope: if fate be kind,
We’ll see that longed-for morn,
When home again we march and find
Red Poppies in the Corn.


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