Many may remember this poem by WWI veteran Archibald MacLiesh from Gates of Prayer. Growing up at Temple Israel of Minneapolis, this powerful piece was used as a prelude to Kaddish in our Youth Services for the High Holy Days and special Sabbaths. It sent shivers up my spine and put tears in my eyes as a kid. It still has the same emotional force today. Tragically, this poem will remain instantly accessible and relevant so long as war remains a reality.
May this day, and every Veterans Day, remind us of the great price of war and renew our commitment to the pursuit of peace.
The Young Soldiers
The young dead soldiers do not speak.
Nevertheless, they are heard in the still houses:
who has not heard them?
They have a silence that speaks for them at night
and when the clock counts.
They say: We were young. We have died.
They say: We have done what we could
but until it is finished it is not done.
They say: We have given our lives but until it is finished
no one can know what our lives gave.
They say: Our deaths are not ours: they are yours,
they will mean what you make them.
They say: Whether our lives and our deaths were for
peace and a new hope or for nothing we cannot say,
it is you who must say this.
We leave you our deaths. Give them their meaning.
We were young, they say. We have died; remember us.