When I hear the name “Joyce Kilmer” I think of the beautiful memorial park just a few miles from Bryson City. Fond memories I have of numerous times enjoying picnics, fishing and hiking the trails with family and friends.
Kilmer was born in New Jersey and died in World War I. The Veterans of Foreign War asked the government to find a stand of trees to serve as a memorial to him. The 3,800 acre tract on the Little Santeetlah Creek in Graham County, North Carolina was chosen. It was dedicated and named in his honor in 1936.
Kilmer is perhaps best known for his poem, “Trees”, but during this time of remembering all of our Veterans I would like to share this poem with you.
The bugle echoes shrill and sweet,
But not of war it sings to-day.
The road is rhythmatic with the feet
Of men-at-arms who come to pray.
The roses blossom white and red
On tombs where weary soldiers lie;
Flags wave above the honored dead
And martial music cleaves the sky.
Above their wreath-strewn graves we kneel,
They kept the faith and fought the fight.
Through flying lead and crimson steel
They plunged for Freedom and the Right.
May we, their grateful children, learn
Their strength, who lie beneath the sod,
Who went through fire and death to earn
At last the accolade of God.
In shining rank on rank arrayed
They march, the legions of the Lord;
He is their Captain unafraid,
The Prince of Peace . . . Who brought a sword.
— Joyce Kilmer