Cover Photo by Mark R. Day

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Poem: The Lives of Ants and Men

The smallest creatures, ants and such, work intently as they go about their business

Observing them, as they move through the blades of green and patches of brown soil, they seem to instinctively know their purpose.

They take no notice of my presence; except to repair the damage done to their world by my clumsy stride.

They do not look up but rather proceed on with their lives undistracted and unconcerned with mankind.

What then is man to the natural world other than an inconvenience.

A natural disaster to be dealt with, overcome, and forgotten
Written by Mark R. Day 6/8/15.  Copyright by Mark R. Day 6/8/15, all rights reserved.
This is the final poem written at the Old City Cemetery in Lynchburg on June 8th 2015.  It was inspired by the little black ants, which were busily working away beneath my legs as, I sat on the hilside in the bright sunshine.

Poem: Lessons Taught by a Blue Bloom

Small and insignificant a lone blue flower sways atop its long stem.

The wind gently rocks the bloom its long stem moving like a metronome.

The wind blows stiffly at times causing the petals of the plant to puff and twist.

Occasionally the stem seemingly bends to the earth like a child reaching for its mother.

In this small and insignificant plant there is a metaphor and  an example for us.

Strength comes in flexibility

Beauty is often revealed under pressure

Comfort is always near

Written by Mark R. Day 6/8/15.  Copyright by Mark R. Day 6/8/15, all rights reserved.

This is a the second of three poems written while relaxing on a sunny hillside in Lynchburg VA. at the Old City Cemetery

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Poem: Journey on the Rails of Life

Railroad tracks, rusty brown and unending; they stretch silently and motionless before my eyes.

On and on toward the horizon going nowhere and everywhere as they disappear into the distance.

Railroad tracks are as mysterious and unknown as life itself; stretching onward seemingly without end.

Life, like railroad tracks; has its way-points, emergency stops and final destinations.
Some are just intermediate stops which may offer rest; while others signal a journeys end.

Ultimately we all book passage and our choices create the route that is taken.

Some routes are slow and scenic and others are quick and wrought with woes.

However, the choice may or may not be our own volition;  as fate is a cruel villain who waits beyond each bend.
Written by Mark R. Day 6/8/15.  Copyright by Mark. R. Day 6/8/15, all rights reserved.
"One of a number of poems that was written in Old City Cemetery on 5/8/15.  This one was inspired as I sat on  a hill looking at the Norfolk Southern Railroad track, which runs behind the cemetery."

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Speech: Keynote Address at ceremonies honoring Robert H. Day in Evergreen Burial Park, Roanoke, Va May 23, 2015

Mayor Bowers, Mr. Wilson, Reverend Smith, Mr.  Barber (SCV), Ms. Mador (OCR), Mrs. Smith (UDC), Mr. Day, Brothers of the SUVCW, members of the SCV and UDC, friends and guest.
Paraphrased extemporaneous remarks: Good morning.  As, I drove here this morning from Lynchburg, I had opportunity to pass by several cemeteries, and I noticed the many flags which were waving over the graves of our veterans.  Each of those silent sentinels,  waving in the morning breeze, marked the resting place of an American hero.  If you look to your left or right you will see the flags that wave here in Evergreen Burial Park and we understand ourselves to be surrounded by the men who gave much that we should have freedom.  It is our duty to honor their sacrifice on Memorial Day.  Let us never fail to do so. 

I would like to start with a quote
As we gather today to recognize Robert H. Day, I think it fitting that we consider the idea of dignity.  For dignity is a virtue each of us seeks and dignity is the foundation of the human experience.
     To understand the importance of Major Robert H. Day's life and his many contributions in the history of Roanoke, we will have to make a journey back in history to the years 1865 through 1876.  This was the time following the Civil war, which we now call Reconstruction.  During these years America face uncertainty and restlessness, and though the Civil War had come to an end at Appomattox Court House, Virginia and Bennett Place in North Carolina, with the surrender of R.E. Lee and Joseph Johnson, the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln cast a pall over the nation and the specter of Reconstruction created apprehension in the South.   Many people wondered what form reconstruction would take and how it would be administered and some just hoped for a just and fair outcome, while preparing for the worst.  The war had left many southern cities in ruin and the need for rebuilding the economy was a priority.  It is here then that two key elements, which lead to the creation of current day Roanoke must be mentioned.  First our region of Virginia, while attacked on several occasions, was less seriously damaged than others regions and secondly our geography, being situated at the head of the Shenandoah Valley, along the Roanoke River, would play a large role in emerging successfully from Reconstruction.  Following the war the village / hamlet of Big Lick, now called Roanoke, became an important stop on the Atlantic, Mississippi, and Ohio Railroad.  In 1881 the AM&O was purchased by a Northern banking firm, which also controlled the Shenandoah Valley Railroad and merged the two in order to form the Norfolk and Western Railway.  Almost immediately economic growth began as coal from the Appalachian Mountains began to flow through Roanoke on its way to Steel Mills in the North.  Coincidentally the railroad now also brought us another asset in the form of Robert H. Day a gentleman who would leave his mark on Roanoke. 
     Robert H. Day was born September 28, 1835, during the Presidency of Andrew Jackson, in Bridgewater Township, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania.  Robert was apprenticed to the Erie Railroad in 1849 as a machinist for a term of three years.  In 1852 he was promoted to Fireman and twenty-one months later he became a full-fledged Locomotive Engineer.  In 1858 Robert resigned from the Erie Railroad and taking Horace Greeley's advice went west in search of work in his chosen field.  After spending a short time in Texas he migrated to the city of New Orleans where he became connected with the Tallert and Bro's Company, which was headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, building stationary engines for Grist Mills and Cotton Gins.   At the outbreak of Civil War Robert Day returned to the North and enlisted as a private in the 56th Pennsylvania Infantry Company D. and rose quickly through the ranks due to his uncommon valor and leadership abilities.  He was promoted from 1st Sgt. to 2nd Lt. in September 1862, and was severely wounded at the Battle of Second Manassas (Bull Run).  Following a long period of recovery he rejoined his unit and was promoted to 1st Lt. on March 1st 1863 and Capt. on June 13th 1863.  Robert was taken prisoner during the first day's battle at Gettysburg on July 1, 1863 and was imprisoned in Richmond's infamous at Libby Prison.  Captain Day was one of the leaders of an escape from Libby in February of 1864 but was recaptured and sent to several Confederate Prisoner of War Camps in Georgia and the Carolina's.  Only with the arrival of General William Tecumseh Sherman's army in the Carolina's was Captain Day freed from captivity and he was discharged from the Union Army on January 10, 1865.
     Upon his discharge Robert returned to Pennsylvania and began working once again for the Erie Railroad and played a significant role as line superintendent and later as locomotive superintendent with various divisions of the Erie.  In 1882 Robert accepted the position of Road Foreman for the newly created Norfolk and Western Railway on the Shenandoah line and relocated his family to Roanoke, formerly known as Big Lick and quickly became active in local civics and economic development and distinguished himself a leader in several national organizations of that era.  He was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, a Civil War Veterans group, which sought to assist the wives and orphans of Union Soldiers and played a increasingly powerful role in national politics.  He was also a member of the Brotherhood of Railroad Engineers, an organization that continues to this very day, and he was a member of the Libby Prison Tunnel Association.    Robert H. Day's contributions to the city of Roanoke include being connected with the Roanoke Street Railway, which began service in 1887, as its superintendent.   Robert himself drove the teams of mules used to pull the cars and on one occasion had the unfortunate experience of having the mules kicking a fender off a car and striking him.  In 1892 the mule pulled cars where replaced with electric cars and "The Major" as people had taken to calling Robert was elected by the board of managers of the Roanoke Electric Light and Power Company, as General Manager, and had also been at one time the President and General Manager of the Old Dominion paper Bag Company. 
     Robert H. Day was a man born in the North, Trained in the North, and who fought for the Northern Cause fortunately however,  Robert H. Day  was also a man who came to Roanoke with the Railroad and contributed to the revitalization of this city and the greater region it serves.  Roanoke owes this great pioneer a great debt of gratitude, which we can only begin to repay today with this simple ceremony.  Robert was once introduced in the following manner.  "We have with us today one who has grown gray in the faithful and self-sacrificing service . . . whose fidelity and unswerving loyalty to duty, whose character unsullied and spotless as a man . . . . has become enshrined in the hearts of each and every member.  His life has been like an open book, to be read by all men . . . a life worth of emulation by all.  No granite shaft or bronze token will then be needed to preserve his name . . . and when the granite shaft that marks the tomb of some heroic dead . . . shall have crumbled to dust with time . . . the name of our honored . . . friend will still be preserved.

     Today, in this ceremony we have done our best to preserve the name of Robert H. Day.  Let his name find its place in the storied history of Roanoke and let no one forget that he lived his life in service to the greater good of mankind, as a soldier, a leader, a visionary, and a faithful citizen of this his adopted home city.  It is my dearest hope that everyone here will remember the name of Robert H. Day and will strive to teach the next generation about his virtuous qualities and his human dignity.   Men who possess such  characteristics  as humility and self-sacrifice provide the right kind of example for future generations fight for the noble cause, involve themselves in the betterment of humanity, and do the great things which they did not dream possible.   May God grant Robert Day his eternal grace and may God grant each of us the knowledge that we hold the power to preserve or ignore history and the men and women who gave us this great country and may he guide us to do what is right.

Written and presented by Mark R. Day 5-23-15 at Evergreen Burial Park.  Copyright by Mark R. Day 5-23-15, all rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Speech: Address given Memorial Day May 25th 2015 in Red Hook, New York

Mayor Blondell, Commander Moore, my fellow veterans, friends, and citizens of Red Hook
Good morning.  My thanks to Post 7765 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars for their invitation to speak today.  I have never felt more honored by anything before and I will remember this moment all of my life. 

Paraphrased extemporaneous comments I made in response to the size of the crowd: I am overwhelmed by the sight of so many people here in this park.  Truly the people of Red Hook are proving their commitment to remembering their veterans.  I live in Bedford, Virginia the home of the National D-Day Memorial and as we join here this morning people are also gathering there, but my heart tells me that the crowd here in this small park in this small village, in the Mid-Hudson Valley is as large as or even larger than that which will gather this morning in Bedford and you should be proud of yourselves for your outstanding commitment to our honored dead.

We are gathered here in a solemn ceremony of remembrance for those men from Red Hook who in the words of Abraham Lincoln “gave the last full measure of devotion” to their country.  Their names appear before us cut into the two granite stones, which lie before us in this Memorial Garden.

In a few minutes we will call the roll of these our hometown hero’s, flags will be place, taps will be played and rifle salutes will roll like thunder over this ground.  For some this will bring a close to Memorial Day and signal other celebrations of the day.  However, for others this will only be the beginning of their conversations about their Great Grandfathers, Grandfathers, Fathers, Brothers, Sons, and yes Daughters who served this country, and are still serving it today in faraway places.

As a child growing up in Red Hook Memorial Day was a time of excitement and parades.  Yet, I still remember the hush which accompanied the roll call of the names of the honored dead, and the chill, which the playing of taps sent up and down the spine.  Oh and yes I recall that startled flinch when the rifles were fired.

All of this made me aware that something important was taking place, but I did not fully understand.  I suspect many in this crowd have experienced similar feelings and may also understand that Memorial Day is special, but not really and truly know why.

In America today only 1% of the population will serve in the military.  Gone are the days when the majority of men in this community saw active service and experienced the sense of duty to country and comrades, which creates the bond of remembrance.  It is harder now for most individuals to see this as more than a simple ceremony, which is repeated every year out of tradition, but that is not so for those of us who served in peacetime or wartime.  We have a duty to ensure our brothers are never forgotten.  For us Memorial Day is an act of reverence and an opportunity to educate our future generations about loyalty, brotherhood, and the value of devotion to our principles.

Let me close with a few questions, which I ask you to think about as you leave today’s ceremony.

                         If we will not remember these men who sacrificed all, who will?
                         If we do not teach our children the meaning of devotion and self-sacrifice, who will?
                         If we do not hold this day precious and sacred, then what do we stand for?

Thank you for allowing me this opportunity speak.  May God bless these our fallen heroes, may the grace of God be with all who served, and may God grant each of us the knowledge and strength to pass on this story of remembrance for the fallen.

Written and presented by Mark R. Day 5-25-15, copyright by Mark R. Day, 5-25-15, all rights reserved.

Note: I was asked to be the speaker for the annual Memorial Day Ceremony in my hometown of Red Hook, New York.  I was directed that the address be short and that it reflect the significance of the day.  This version of the address is the third and final draft.  It was written while sitting at the kitchen table of my sisters house, number 3 Graves St., between 7:45 and 8:30 am on the 25th of May.  The first person to hear the address was my sister Cindy.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Prayer: Senior Day Offering 5-17-15

Lord we present these offerings and gifts to you in then knowledge that, they will be used as a blessing which promotes the work of building your kingdom here on Earth and we fervently pray, that you will look upon our offering, our prayers, and our service as expressions of our love and devotion as disciples of Christ. 

Lord we pray, that as our prayers ascend to you this morning, you love will abide with us forever through your son Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior.


written by Mark R. Day, copyrighted by Mark R. Day 5/17-15, all rights reserved

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Poem: "Twilight"

Twilight, the soft embrace of the ending day
tenderly releases both earth and sky
slowly immersing the world in blissful rest.