There is no doubt that a lot of Memorial Day traditions have been disrupted this year thanks to COVID-19. Special services, get together events, VFW events, parades, and other events have been cancelled. Whatever event you may have had your heart set on this year, the bottom line is it is a different kind of Memorial Day. For one Texarkana resident a twenty-five-year tradition has been broken.
As long as some people in the Texarkana area can remember, Ann Atchison Nicholas or her mother Jane Cobb Atchison have recited “In Flanders Fields” as part of Texarkana’s Memorial Day Services. Nicholas is the former Miller County Cleark and a ballet instructor and choreographer at Judith McCarty School of Dancing. She is well recognized because of her political positions, and community work. The tradition of reciting “In Flanders Fields” was started by her mother twenty-five years ago as a small way to pay tribute to those who have fallen in service for our country. Normally Ann would have read the poem for the Veteran’s Council Services at Memorial Gardens and at the American Legion Services at The Miller County Courthouse. COVID-19 concerns forced the cancellation of both events.
Yesterday afternoon Ann posted the poem on her Facebook timeline. She noted that both she and her mother had recited the poem at Memorial Day events for years. Ann stated “It is very sad that all services are cancelled this year,” and then she went on to share the poem on Facebook. Those who follow her or the groups where she posted would have seen the poem yesterday. Many in our community, some veterans and survivors, are not on the Facebook groups and missed the posting.
If you know Ann Atchison Nicholas, then you know she is an outstanding, giving, and beautiful person. The reading of the poem is a tradition that has passed from mother to daughter. We have been blessed with over twenty-five years of a Memorial Day tradition that has brought tears to survivor’s eyes, and reminded us of the ultimate sacrifice men and women have made for our freedom.
This tradition is simply too important to allow it to not be recognized and remembered this year. In honor of Jane Cobb Atchison, Ann Atchison Nicholas for their twenty-five years of dedication, and most importantly in honor of all the men and women we remember on this Memorial Day:
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.
(“In Flanders Fields” was written by John McCrae)