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LETTERS

Poem forged by lifelong experiences

August 17, 2003

I enjoyed Susan Spano's column ["Knowledge of the Sort That Isn't Found in Guidebooks," Her World, Aug. 10].

Her mention of John McCrae's "In Flanders Fields" poem and of her late mother's belief that lessons you remember are the ones learned by the heart reminded me of the "Now -- In Flanders Fields," an [unpublished] poem a Kansas housewife and my mother, Letha Catherine Latham Lloyd, wrote during World War II:

"Now -- in Flanders Fields"

"In Flanders fields, we have been told,

That poppies blossom row on row.

And so, we hear again today

How other soldiers fight the fray

And, dying bravely, they too, will lay

In Flanders fields.

We learn that men still heed the call,

Are doomed to die where'ere they fall.

But, if they're not the 'unknown dead'

They may have crosses o'er their head.

And someday, we hope, when war doth end,

Someone may plant more poppies red

To adorn graves of new soldiers dead

In Flanders fields.

In 2000, my mother passed away, at 83, and, like Spano, I'm grateful for a mother's guidance and compassionate heart (as exemplified by this and other poems she wrote).

Grant Thomas Lloyd

Santa Maria, Calif.

*

Tales of "Wipers," as the British in World War I called the battleground at Ieper, are described in vivid detail by Robert W. Service in his poems, dedicated to his brother, Lt. Albert Service, who was killed in action in France in August 1916. [Spano's] article sent me to my 1948 edition of "Rhymes of a Red Cross Man" to read, "In doleful hours of battle-din, ere yet they brought the wounded in."

Red crepe paper poppies still remind me of my grandfather's stories of the muddy trenches, the wounded soldiers, the deafening gunfire and the fear of mustard gas attacks.

Spano's mother was right: Learning is the whole point of travel.

Lee Botsford

Del Mar, Calif.

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