Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

This song was used in the movie We Were Soldiers. It is sung by Joseph Kilna MacKenzie in memory of his great-grandfather, Sargent Charles Stuart MacKenzie. According to the younger MacKenzie:

Charles Stuart MacKenzie was a Sergeant in the Seaforth Highlanders. He went to fight in France during World War One and was shot in the shoulder, the military sent him home to Scotland for treatment, where the surgeon wanted to amputate his arm. He immediately refused, stating that he had to get back to his men. During his time in hospital he was asked what it was like to kill 'the hun' (as the Germans where called then). He replied what a waste of a fine body of men.

On the steps of the hospital, the last picture of him was taken in his uniform. This picture hung in his home above the fireplace. On his return to battle, he and his men were engaged in fixed bayonet combat. To the best of my knowledge, and taken from reports of the returning soldiers - one of his close friends fell, badly wounded. Charles stood his ground and fought until he was overcome and died from bayonet wounds. On that day, my Great Grandmother and my Grandmother where sitting at the fire when the picture fell from the wall. My Great Grandmother looked, and said to my Grandmother "oh, my bonnie Charlie's dead." Sure enough a few days passed, then the local policeman brought the news - that Sgt. Charles Stuart MacKenzie had been killed in action.

This same picture now hangs above my fireplace. A few years back my wife Christine died of cancer, and in my grief I looked at his picture to ask what gave him the strength to go on. It was then, in my mind, that I saw him lying on the field and wondered what his final thoughts were. The words and music just appeared into my head.

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