The library is closed on Memorial Day to observe and honor Memorial Day.

Lines from this powerful poem, written by poet Archibald Macleish during his time as Librarian of Congress 1939-1944, is featured on the Peace Fountain at the World War I Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Photo of Peace Fountain at World War I Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Photo credit: National Park Service


Nevertheless they are heard in the still houses: who has not heard them?

They have a silence that speaks for them at night and when the clock counts.

They say, We were young. We have died. Remember us.

They say, We have done what we could but until it is finished it is not done.

They say, We have given our lives but until it is finished no one can know what our lives gave.

They say, Our deaths are not ours: they are yours: they will mean what you make them.

They say, Whether our lives and our deaths were for peace and a new hope or for nothing we cannot say: it is you who must say this.

They say, We leave you our deaths: give them their meaning: give them an end to the war and a true peace: give them a victory that ends the war and a peace afterwards: give them their meaning.

We were young, they say. We have died. Remember us.

Macleish, a veteran of the first World War, wrote this poem sometime in the 1940s, and requested that it be published anonymously. Sometime since then, that request was set aside.

Memorial Day poem
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