Hold It High

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Assault landing, one of the first waves at Omaha. The Coast Guard caption identifies the unit as Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. (U.S. Coast Guard photograph)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.–In Southern California this year we experienced a fairly rare phenomenon called a super bloom.

Because of the excessive rain during the wintertime, beautiful poppies covered the fields, the hills, and even the desert floor. It was a magnificent sight.

A little over a hundred years ago, Western Europe experienced its own super bloom.  In the middle of the brutal conditions of World War I, beautiful poppies covered the battlefields and even the hastily dug graves of fallen soldiers. 

Seeing this super bloom, a Canadian doctor named Lt. Col. John McCrae wrote the following after presiding over the funeral of a friend:
 
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 Field

 
In these few short stanzas, the dead provide a simple reminder to the living.  Live up to their legacy. Catch the torch they have passed on and hold it high.

June 6 marked the 75th Anniversary of D-Day — the invasion of mainland Europe by Allied forces during World War II.  It is on that battlefield that our legacy continued.  That evening, President Roosevelt led the nation in prayer and reminded us of the details of that legacy.  He stated:

“They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest.  They fight to liberate.  They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people.  They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.”

It is our responsibility to live up to that legacy today as we strive together for the warfighter here at The Center of the Aerospace Testing Universe. We do so as we mold and shape American aerospace power. We do so as we all play a critical role in test and evaluation.

May we honor those who have passed on before us. May we do so not just on this day of remembrance, but throughout the year. As we do so, may we keep firmly in mind that our best tribute to them is to catch the torch they have passed on to us and to hold it high. Thank you for doing so here at Edwards Air Force Base as we make history today!