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Rotary District 6950 provides an opportunity to build lifelong friendships and experience the personal fulfillment of providing volunteer service to others. This Rotary district provides humanitarian service, encourages high ethical standards in all vocations, and builds goodwill and peaceful relationships throughout the world.

Rotary is a world fellowship of business and professional persons who accept the ideal of service, individually and collectively, as a basis for success and happiness in business and community life. Rotary is present in over 160 countries worldwide, with over 1.2M Rotarians in over 30,000 clubs. We look for ways to serve the needs of our local communities, as well as worldwide efforts to improve health, goodwill and peace.

The main objective of Rotary is service — in the community, in the workplace, and throughout the world. Rotarians develop community service projects that address many of today's most critical issues. The Rotary motto is Service Above Self.

The mission of Rotary International is to support its member clubs in fulfilling the object of Rotary by:

  • Fostering unity among member clubs;
  • Strengthening and expanding Rotary around the world;
  • Communicating worldwide the work of Rotary; and
  • Providing a system of international administration.

We invite you to join any Rotary club and see what we are about. Meet like-minded members of the community who want to build friendships and make a difference!


Monday with Mikey: May 29, 2017

(Spoiler Alert:  MWM is a bit longer today.  It’s a transcript of the address I am offering at a Memorial Day service later this morning.)

Today is Memorial Day.  I’d like to share with you a poem called:

Decoration Day

Sleep, comrades, sleep and rest
On this Field of the Grounded Arms,
Where foes no more molest,
Nor sentry's shot alarms!

Ye have slept on the ground before,
And started to your feet
At the cannon's sudden roar,
Or the drum's redoubling beat.

But in this camp of Death
No sound your slumber breaks;
Here is no fevered breath,
No wound that bleeds and aches.

All is repose and peace,
Untrampled lies the sod;
The shouts of battle cease,
It is the Truce of God!

Rest, comrades, rest and sleep!
The thoughts of men shall be
As sentinels to keep
Your rest from danger free.

Your silent tents of green
We deck with fragrant flowers
Yours has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned these words in 1882 in commemoration of soldiers who had given their lives during the American Civil War.  By that time, May 30th had been designated as “Decoration Day” by the Grand Army of the Republic, a veterans’ group composed of Union Soldiers who had survived the ravages of the War Between the States.    But we haven’t always observed Memorial Day on the same date – or called it by the same name.

600,000 soldiers and sailors from both the Union and the Confederacy died during the Civil War – and after the Great and Horrible Contest was decided, families of the war-dead on both sides sought to commemorate – and come to closure with - their losses.  Southern groups named their observances “memorial” or “remembrance” days, and held ceremonies on May 5th.  In the former “Union” states, May 30th was chosen because NO battle of the Civil War had been fought on that particular day during the over-four year conflagration.

The custom of honoring The Fallen hails back to Ancient Times, when relatives met annually to tend to and decorate their graves and recount the struggles that led to their deaths.  The custom of Decoration/Memorial Day began on April 25, 1866 in Mississippi and July 3, 1868 in Pennsylvania. 

After the First and Second World Wars, as nations around the globe sought to remember those who had fought and died, we in the United States began to include those who had died in all of America’s wars and conflicts.  The day celebrated in countries other than ours is called Remembrance Day.

Congress passed the Monday Holiday Bill in 1968, and Memorial Day officially (and for some, controversially) shifted to the Fourth Monday of May in 1971.

But what is Memorial Day?

To answer that question, let’s explore what it’s not:

  • Memorial Day is NOT the first day of Summer.  That’s somewhere around June 21st, the Summer Solstice (give or take a day or two).
  • Memorial Day is NOT the day after which it’s okay to wear white to social affairs. Nor is it actually the first day a hurricane can strike us here in Florida.
  • Although several major sporting events are held – for convenience and advertising revenue purposes – on Memorial Day or during its three-day weekend, it is actually NOT set aside to watch Indy Cars race or Lacrosse teams vie for the national championship.
  • Memorial Day is NOT the day we honor our living Veterans – active, former, and retired.  Veterans’ Day is celebrated annually on November 11th, which is also known as Armistice Day – the day The Great War ended. 
    • I am a US Navy Veteran. 
    • My Great Grandfather, John Oscar Clark, was a “doughboy” Army Captain in World War I. 
    • My father is and my uncles were veterans during the Korean and Vietnam Conflicts. 
    • And my two dear sons, Ted and Rick, are currently serving our nation. Ted is a Surface Warfare Lieutenant in the Navy, and Rick is a Reconnaissance Captain in the Marine Corps. 
    • But none of us – during all those generations – has given our very lives for the cause of freedom.  We are veterans, and we have our own special day.

Memorial Day IS the day set aside for all of us – each and every one of us – to pause and remember the men and women who have given their lives in defense of The United States, for Freedom, and to preserve The American Way.  They have come from all walks of life, encompass every race and religion, and represent manifold political affiliations.  From Crispus Atticus, the first casualty in the Boston Massacre, to the patriots who are fighting and dying this very day in foreign lands, we:

  • Reverently remember their sacrifices,
  • Honor their courage and selflessness, and
  • Hope that someday, there will be no more wars to fight.

I’m sure most of us are familiar with the letter written by President Abraham Lincoln to Mrs. Lydia Bixby, consoling her for the loss of her sons on the field of battle.  Although it was discovered some years later that only two of her five sons were actually killed, Mr. Lincoln’s words were nonetheless eloquent, heartfelt, and genuine:

I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,

A Lincoln

I’d like paraphrase the words written by Julia Ward Howe in the Battle Hymn of the Republic.  Please excuse the gender and denominational specificity:

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea with a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me;
Ashe died to make men holy, let us live to make men free - While God is marching on!

Finally, there is a custom in many English-speaking countries of wearing a poppy on one’s lapel to show our remembrance for those fallen heroes. The Flemish Region is one of the three official regions of the Kingdom of Belgium—alongside the Walloon Region and the Brussels-Capital Region. Colloquially, it is usually simply referred to as Flanders, and it was one of the primary sites in the First World War, which is also known as “The War to End All Wars.”  The custom rose from the words of the poem In Flanders Field by John McCrae:

 In Flanders Fields

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.

Until next week let’s all keep on “Doing Good, Having Fun!"

Mikey

Mike Chapman

District 6950 Governor 2016-17

mjc6950rotary@gmail.com

727-415-3181

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