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.
– Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae
The bugle echoes shrill and sweet,
But not of war it sings to-day.
The road is rhythmic with the feet
Of men-at-arms who come to pray.
The roses blossom white and red
On tombs where weary soldiers lie;
Flags wave above the honored dead
And martial music cleaves the sky.
Above their wreath-strewn graves we kneel,
They kept the faith and fought the fight.
Through flying lead and crimson steel
They plunged for Freedom and the Right.
May we, their grateful children, learn
Their strength, who lie beneath this sod,
Who went through fire and death to earn
At last the accolade of God.
In shining rank on rank arrayed
They march, the legions of the Lord;
He is their Captain unafraid,
The Prince of Peace… Who brought a sword.
– Joyce Kilmer
Gary Sinise and Joe Mantegna, two of Hollywood’s biggest patriots, are in Washington, D.C., to host the 25th annual Memorial Day concert on the west lawn of the Capitol.
It should be a given that actors, writers, and directors would appreciate the freedoms we enjoy here in America, but too often Hollywood seems to prefer celebrating those who are outspoken against American values, ideals, and even our service members. It’s dumbfounding considering that history teaches us artists are often the first to be silenced by totalitarian governments.
Sinise and Mantegna are two midwesterners who grew up with an understanding of the sacrifices members of our military have made to keep our nation free.
I had the honor of interviewing both of these patriots this week about the Memorial Day concert scheduled for Sunday night. The concert draws hundreds of thousands to the mall and it is free to the public.
I asked Sinise about his special connection to the troops and he said it really all started with his iconic performance as Lt. Dan in the film Forrest Gump. He has now started a foundation specifically designed to help wounded veterans, especially amputees.
“We have a whole new generation of Lt. Dan’s out there and we’ll highlight one of them at the concert this weekend,” he told me.
Sinese has said that his appreciation for Memorial Day goes back to his childhood in Illinois: “When I was a kid, I loved the Memorial Day parade. Especially saluting the soldiers who had done so much for our country. I was too young to understand the words ‘sacrifice’ and ‘tribute,’ but I knew what a hero was. And that’s what our service members have always been to me.”
Mantegna also grew up in Chicago; having military members in his family instilled a special appreciation for those who have sacrificed for our country:
“I had a lot of military in my family and they all came back from conflicts so there was no immediate attachment to Memorial Day in terms of a day of personal remembrance,” Mantegna said. “And yet, once I did that concert I realized Memorial Day is not just a holiday, it’s our most important holiday because of the sacrifices all these men and women made throughout our history.”
There’s plenty to complain about when it comes to some of the bone-headed, unpatriotic utterances from many of the members of the Hollywood community. But here are two examples of humble men who understand what it means to be truly free, and, sadly, what the cost of that freedom has been.
I know from personal experience there are more men and women like this in Hollywood. They just don’t get the attention they deserve.