Memorial Day Promise by Immigrant Author Katharine Jirsa Reynolds


We promise you who sleep beneath white crosses
In far-off lands – in cool green depths of seas,
That this, your land, the home your hearts so cherished
Will be forever free from tyrant hands.

We promise you by all we hold most holy,
By all the blood and tears a whole world shed,
To rid this earth of monster greeds —- creeds hoary
That bred the hates that piled up all our dead.

We promise you, dear hearts, beneath war’s crosses,
Beneath the sea-green waves that rock your battle beds,
That we, who weep, shall pay in true soul treasure
For every drop of blood your young hearts shed.

We promise you by every God men worship,
To keep this earth — a home — for all mankind;
To cleanse our hearts —- plant gardens —- create beauty;
Make real the dreams you dreamed and were denied.

Oh sleeping sons, of this our grieving nation,
You have our promise and our bitter, bitter tears.
Our promise that forevermore we shall remember
The gift you made to free this world from fear.

Katharine Jirsa Reynolds,

Lombard, Illinois 

The author, the great-grandmother of Kim Crockett, came with her parents to the United States from Czechoslovakia as a very young girl, then Katharine Jirsa.  She later taught school in a one-room schoolhouse, then wrote novels and short stories in Lombard, Illinois and while living in South America with her husband who worked there as an engineer.  In 1930, she co-founded Lombard’s Lilac Festival, still celebrated every spring.  She also co-founded a weekly newspaper with her brother Frank Jirsa that is still in circulation today. Her first of four sons, Thomas George Reynolds (my maternal grandfather) was born April 9, 1906.  Unbeknownst to his family until after the War, he worked on the Manhattan Project in Manhattan. She wrote this poem after World War II.