Carol Bachofner: ‘Shared Sacrifice’, a Memorial Day poem

Mon, 05/25/2020 - 10:45am
    For the past decade, Rockland Poet Laureate emerita Carol Bachofner has composed and read an original poem for the Rockland Memorial Day commemoration ceremony. Each year’s poem has taken on a different aspect of the life as it is known in this country, due to the sacrifices made by soldiers and citizens. 
    “I have done one for this year too, but COVID 19 has changed things for public gatherings,” she said. “Poetry has a unique way to help us pause and consider what kind of life we are living. Each year writing the poem focuses me, gives me a sense of how large is the heart of this country. I always hope it touches the spirit of service and sacrifice that is needed to survive.”
    While she has composed a poem, this year she is presenting it electronically, through video. It is also reprinted below.
    “With the ban on getting together in groups during this pandemic, parades and events being cancelled, I think it’s important to maintain the parts of tradition we can,” she said. “This year I deliver it from my porch. I have been sheltered at home for 67 days.”

    She continued: “Memorial Day has always been my favorite holiday. When I was a high school student, it marked the end of the school year and a final act of service to my community, as I led our marching band through our town, through the cemetery where we paused to honor the dead.

    “Since my father’s death, I see it as a way to honor him and his military service. He served in WW II Battle of the Bulge, where he was a POW until liberated on his birthday at the end of the war. He was a Purple Heart recipient as well, having been wounded during his capture. Memorial Day is so important now as we sacrifice in ways we never imagined.”

    Shared Sacrifice

    We long for the past, for people and places.

    We long for time spent with other than memories.

    No parade to cheer us, no blare of trumpet, no flags 

    to wave. We live in the forced quiet of this moment. 

    Sacrifice they tell us, for the common good. 

    Like the sacrifice our ancestors made, they who marched 

    away, not for a moment, not for a day. Away away, forever.


    We need this quiet sacrifice they tell us, to focus

    on what’s been shaken, to pray for what could be, 

    to hope for better days ahead. Share this sacrifice

    and see what we can do to keep each other safe and well.

    In war after war, women, men and boys shared the strife for flag

    and country. Wreaths get placed on their graves, at monuments.

    Care for the care they showed. Sacrifice on sacrifice they made.


    So be even quieter today. Pause inside the pause. Remember

    those who gave and gave all. Long for what’s ahead, keep 

    your heart ready for the next time we stand together

    and raise the flag to remember how good it feels to share.



    Carol Willette Bachofner, poet laureate emerita, Rockland

    Memorial Day 2020