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A Prayer For Our Fallen Soldiers

A Prayer For Our Fallen Soldiers

On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, an armistice, or "cease fire" was declared between the Allied nations and Germany, ending hostilities in the "Great War," later known as World War I. Seven months later, the war officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919, but the "war to end all wars" was already over.

By Presidential proclamation in November 1919,Armistice Day was declared by President Wilson to be observed on November 11th to reflect on the heroism of those who died in service to our country duringA Prayer To Honor Our Fallen Soldiers the bloodiest war to date. In 1921, Congress approved the establishment of a Tomb of the Unknowns  in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.. A Congressional Act in 1938 made Armistice Day a legal holiday, however in 1954, following World War II and the Korean War, Congress changed the name of the observance from "Armistice Day" to "Veterans Day" to honor veterans of all wars.

In 1961, an unknown Oakland woman named Elma Dean was suddenly thrust into world recognition with a poem she had written during World War II, honoring the fallen soldiers. "A Letter to St. Peter" has been transcribed on an American cemetery wall in England, recited by a U.S. Senator at another European cemetery, posted in National Geographic and found in the Congressional Record.

Appearing in the Oakland Tribune on December 17, 1961, is the following excerpt: "It was the summer of 1942, and things were not going well for us in the war," said Elma Dean in her quiet voice, "and so many of our sons, some of my friend's sons, were being killed. I was going around with tears in my eyes." She shared her tears with the tears of mothers across the country when she wrote the poem, "Letter to St. Peter" in November 1942.

"Letter to St. Peter" made its way to songwriter, John Gorka, who adapted it to a song he called, "Let Them In," which has since been recorded by a number of performing artists. The version below is an arrangement by David Wilcox. Under the player, I have included the words so you may follow along. I dedicate this post to all of our soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice...

Let Them In

Let them in, Peter, they are very tired
Give them couches where the angels sleep, and light those fires
Let them wake whole again, to brand new dawns
Fired by the sun not wartime's bloody guns
May their peace be deep, remember where the broken bodies lie
God knows how young they were to have to die
God knows how young they were to have to die

 So give them things they like, let them make some noise
Give dance hall bands not golden harps, to these our boys
And let them love, Peter. For they've had no time,
They should have trees and bird songs and hills to climb
The taste of summer, in a ripened pear,
And girls sweet as meadow wind, with flowing hair
And tell them how they are missed, but say not to fear
It's gonna be alright, with us down here.


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Comment balloon 12 commentsJohn McCarthy • November 10 2011 03:06PM
A Prayer For Our Fallen Soldiers
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