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Monday, November 12, 2012 - 3:00am

For Veterans Day: We Pause To Read 'In Flanders Fields'

Good morning.

At Arlington National Cemetery on Sunday, President Obama expressed the nation's gratitude to its veterans.

"Whenever America has come under attack, you've risen to her defense," he said. "Whenever our freedoms have come under assault, you've responded with resolve. Time and again, at home and abroad, you and your families have sacrificed to protect that powerful promise that all of us hold so dear - life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

While Veterans Day was Sunday, today is the official federal holiday. If you'd like to send a message to a soldier currently serving in the U.S. military, you can post it on this White House webpage and the USO will deliver it.

And if you'd like to take a few more moments to reflect, as we have said before there's no more appropriate way than by reading In Flanders Fields, the poem written in May 1915 by Canadian military doctor, Maj. John M. McCrae, after he treated victims of a German chemical attack in Belgium. It inspired the use of red poppies as a symbol of Veterans Day for many years in the U.S., and they're still used in Great Britain on what's known there as Remembrance Day.

Here are McCrae's words:

"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."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit

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