A Prayer For Our Fallen Soldiers

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A Prayer For Our Fallen Soldiers

On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, an armistice, or "cease fire" was declared between the Allied nations and Germany, ending hostilities in the "Great War," later known as World War I. Seven months later, the war officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919, but the "war to end all wars" was already over.

By Presidential proclamation in November 1919,Armistice Day was declared by President Wilson to be observed on November 11th to reflect on the heroism of those who died in service to our country duringA Prayer To Honor Our Fallen Soldiers the bloodiest war to date. In 1921, Congress approved the establishment of a Tomb of the Unknowns  in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.. A Congressional Act in 1938 made Armistice Day a legal holiday, however in 1954, following World War II and the Korean War, Congress changed the name of the observance from "Armistice Day" to "Veterans Day" to honor veterans of all wars.

In 1961, an unknown Oakland woman named Elma Dean was suddenly thrust into world recognition with a poem she had written during World War II, honoring the fallen soldiers. "A Letter to St. Peter" has been transcribed on an American cemetery wall in England, recited by a U.S. Senator at another European cemetery, posted in National Geographic and found in the Congressional Record.

Appearing in the Oakland Tribune on December 17, 1961, is the following excerpt: "It was the summer of 1942, and things were not going well for us in the war," said Elma Dean in her quiet voice, "and so many of our sons, some of my friend's sons, were being killed. I was going around with tears in my eyes." She shared her tears with the tears of mothers across the country when she wrote the poem, "Letter to St. Peter" in November 1942.

"Letter to St. Peter" made its way to songwriter, John Gorka, who adapted it to a song he called, "Let Them In," which has since been recorded by a number of performing artists. The version below is an arrangement by David Wilcox. Under the player, I have included the words so you may follow along. I dedicate this post to all of our soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice...

Let Them In

Let them in, Peter, they are very tired
Give them couches where the angels sleep, and light those fires
Let them wake whole again, to brand new dawns
Fired by the sun not wartime's bloody guns
May their peace be deep, remember where the broken bodies lie
God knows how young they were to have to die
God knows how young they were to have to die

 So give them things they like, let them make some noise
Give dance hall bands not golden harps, to these our boys
And let them love, Peter. For they've had no time,
They should have trees and bird songs and hills to climb
The taste of summer, in a ripened pear,
And girls sweet as meadow wind, with flowing hair
And tell them how they are missed, but say not to fear
It's gonna be alright, with us down here.

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Comments (12)

Karen Burket
Bank of Oregon a division of Willamette Valley Bank - Medford, OR
Valley Mortgage Grou, Conventional, FHA, VA, mortgages

Thank you John for posting such a beautiful and nice tribute to those that gave the ultimate sacrifice.  All the best to you.  

Nov 10, 2011 08:34 AM
John McCarthy
North Hampton, NH
Realtor - Seacoast NH

Hi Karen - Thank you for finding this post and visiting. I enjoyed doing the research and finding out about Elma Dean and I am happy to share it. If you value your freedom, thank a soldier!

Nov 10, 2011 08:46 AM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

John, what a wonderful and timely post for our Veterans!     It was very touching!    Suggested!

Nov 10, 2011 09:46 AM
Dawn A Fabiszak
Private Label Realty ( Denver metro area, Colorado - Aurora, CO
The Dawn of a New Real Estate Experience!

John ~ what a beautiful tribute to all of our Veterans.  We would not have the freedoms we have without their selflessness.  Thank you to all who have served our wonderful country.

Nov 10, 2011 02:53 PM
John McCarthy
North Hampton, NH
Realtor - Seacoast NH

Hi Joan - I love to dig into history a bit for some of my posts and this was no exception. The Veterans Day observance is particularly interesting because in 1971, it was changed to October where it stayed until Gerald Ford signed an order to restore it to November under public pressure to keep the memory of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month...  Thank you for the Suggest!

Hi Dawn - Thank you for stopping by! We owe so much to our Veterans for their sacrifice throughout the history of this country. The sweet taste of freedom comes at a very high price and the men and women who have served deserve a very special respect.

Nov 10, 2011 10:14 PM
Toni Weidman
Sailwinds Realty - Trinity, FL
20+ Years Selling Homes in New Port Richey, FL

A great post with lots of background, John. Did you Patch it too? Have a great weekend.

Nov 12, 2011 12:19 AM
John McCarthy
North Hampton, NH
Realtor - Seacoast NH

Hi Toni - Thank you! I like to include a little history when I can and the story behind Elma Dean and the poem I found interesting. I did also post on Hampton-North Hampton Patch as well. The editor wrote to a few of us and asked if we had anything rolling around for the Veterans Day special he was contemplating, so I sent a few little things along as well as this post. Hope you have a great weekend too!

Nov 12, 2011 08:26 AM
Linda Holloway
Keller Williams Realty Tampa Central - Tampa, FL
REALTOR®, Your Next Home in Tampa Bay Starts Here!

Hi John, I arrived at this post from the Facebook link.  I enjoyed learning this information.  What a wonderful tribute!

May 28, 2013 03:41 AM
John McCarthy
North Hampton, NH
Realtor - Seacoast NH

Hi Linda ~ So glad you found your way here. I loved the poem and the song as well. Interestingly, Elma Dean's grandaughter found her way to this post and wrote to me in November of 2012. Vanessa, I would like to add your additional comments to this post.

"Thank you John for posting my grandmothers poem. A letter to Saint Peter. She was a nature lover as well. I have all her work. She and my grandfather Claude Deanare from the Oakland Hills in California. I am one of two surviving granddaughters. She wrote me and my sister Francesca many poems. And also many of her poems were published. Her only son, My dear father Ben Dean passed two years ago of a brain seziure at 83 years old. He was my best friend and I am so sad every day that he is not with me anymore. My mother is still living and they were married 52 years.
Grandma Elma Dean was a sweet grandma. She loved animals and I remember her famous cooking too. She was also very beautiful.
Anyway. Thanks again

Vanessa Dean"

May 28, 2013 01:41 PM
Linda Holloway
Keller Williams Realty Tampa Central - Tampa, FL
REALTOR®, Your Next Home in Tampa Bay Starts Here!

Hi John, Thank you for sharing your note from Vanessa Dean.  What a touching story!

May 30, 2013 03:08 AM
John McCarthy
North Hampton, NH
Realtor - Seacoast NH

Hi Linda ~ Glad you stopped back after leaving your comment. I was very touched when Vanessa reached out to contact me. I was in Florida when I received Vanessa's email, and when I came back to New England, attended an open mic at the Harvest Cafe in Hudson, MA, where I told this story and the performed "Let Them In." The power of the Internet has never ceased to amaze me...you never know how people will find ways to connect. Very best regards, Linda!

May 30, 2013 02:49 PM

We were on a cruise ship last week in Hawaiian islands and a performer sang the song "Let Them In, Peter. A very special few moments among the audience.

Aug 16, 2016 10:45 AM