I am 100 percent a words person, so when it comes to celebrating holidays, I love to read. I indulge on those cheesy Christmas novels hidden deep within my hometown bookstore, read all types of poems and odes around Thanksgiving time, and look up creepy Halloween stories online before the big day. It’s in my nature to read when celebrating, which is why I gathered up a few Memorial Day patriotic poems for you to enjoy and share with your friends online. (Or to read out loud at your outdoor barbecue, #youdoyou.)
While looking up these patriotic poems, I couldn’t help but think of my elementary school days, and how my teachers would throw together a huge concert to honor those who once served. They taught us all patriotic songs to sing and poems to recite, all while we were wearing our brightest red, white, and blue. Everyday before classes started, our little elementary school would start the day by reciting the national anthem, singing our school song, followed by a third song dedicated to America. In fourth grade, my teacher even challenged my classmates to learning a song that forced us to memorize all 50 states through verse, and to this day I can still sing that song loud and proud. Which, let’s be honest, has become my favorite secret weapon when people dare me with the usual “I bet you can’t name all 50 states.” Psych!
I hope that these poems will help you better celebrate Memorial Day, and remembering those who have served for our country in the past.
“We walked among the crosses / Where our fallen soldiers lay / And listened to the bugle / As TAPS began to play...” — C.W Johnson, “A Memorial Day Poem”
Such a beautiful poem about a memorial service and remembering those who served our country. This certainly will have you thinking back to times in the town green, listening to a lone trumpeter playing TAPS and veterans lifting flags in honor of those once lost.
“I thought how many men like him / Had fallen through the year / How many died on foreign soil? / How many mothers' tears? / How many Pilots' planes shot down? / How many died at sea? / How many foxholes were soldiers' graves? / No, Freedom isn't free…” — Kelly Strong, “Freedom Isn’t Free”
We’re always talking about how America is a country of freedom, but how many think about the price that soldiers had to pay in order for us to live in a free country such as this? “Freedom Isn’t Free” is a great reminder of that.
“So it's home again, and home again, America for me! / My heart is turning home again and there I long to be, / In the land of youth and freedom, beyond the ocean bars, / Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars.” — Henry Van Dyke, “America For Me”
I think it’s safe to say that simply appreciating the beautiful country that soldiers fought so hard for us to have is a great way to remember those fallen soldiers. Praise the beautiful oceans, the rolling meadows, the mountains, and the city streets. Henry Van Dyke will capture your heart with this poem and completely transport you into a place of truly loving this country.
"So we raise her up every morning, / Take her down every night. / We don't let her touch the ground / And we fold her up right. / On second thought I do like to brag, / 'Cause I'm mighty proud of that Ragged Old Flag.” — Johnny Cash, “Ragged Old Flag”
This is a song, but read it without the notes and you’ll notice just how beautiful the words are standing alone. "The Ragged Old Flag" mentioned in the song is a symbol for our country and all of the wars and battles that we have gone through to get where we are today. The flag isn’t beautiful — it is bruised, bloody, and ripped. But the little town is proud of the flag, just like how we are proud of the people who have fought for our country.
“Remember those we loved, / Who fought for us, and died; / And those we never knew / For whom others mourned and cried.” — Joanna Fuchs, “Freedom In America”
Fuchs is taking us back to the sole purpose of Memorial Day, bringing you to that place of loss and hurt experienced by those who lost loved ones while serving our country, or other battles they endured while loved ones were out at war. Yes, Memorial Day is joyous and a wonderful reason to celebrate, but also a time to mourn and to give thanks to those who did what they could for you to celebrate freely today.
“My country need not change her gown, / Her triple suit as sweet / As when 't was cut at Lexington, / And first pronounced ‘a fit.’” — Emily Dickinson, “My Country’s Wardrobe”
This beautiful poem by Emily Dickinson is a tribute not only to those who fought for freedom, but for anyone who fights for what is right. If anyone tells you that you are throwing “a fit” when speaking up for something you believe in, don’t pay attention to the haters. Keep fighting. Because someday, people like Emily Dickinson will write about your bravery and triumphant victories towards doing what is right for this country.