“If my death helps end this war one minute sooner, I consider it worthwhile…” -Vernon Buchanan

I’ve never been a very sentimental American and even tragic news of soldiers dying overseas has never made me as emotional as it should. Memorial Day is always just a much-needed day off from work. This year is different for two reasons. In January, a coworker’s husband was killed in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb. It reminds you that the soldiers killed in action have parents, spouses, and kids who they leave behind. And it is very sad when it happens so close to home.

Then in May, I started stretching and doing interval training at the Indianapolis War Memorial. It is an impressive five-block area of downtown memorializing Indiana’s soldiers. At first, it just feels like you’re walking around DC. As I’ve gotten to know the area better, I’ve discovered it’s a lot more than limestone monuments and grassy fields. It provides an intimate understanding of the soldiers who served in the wars. There are large monuments to the Korean War, Vietnam War and WWII. Each of these are filled with text related to each war. Instead of listing off impersonal stats about the wars, it includes quotes, poems, and letters from the soldiers.

While I was stretching in front of the WWII monument today, a man stopped by to look at it and we started talking. He mentioned he served in the Vietnam War and lost a lot of close friends. He said he comes back to look at these monuments every time he visits Indianapolis. It reminds me how important it is to spend some time remembering our soldiers killed in action whether they died in 1944 or this past January. In honor of Memorial Day, here are some of the most moving bits of text engraved in the monuments.

The poem is my favorite. Apparently James McGregor was always writing and sharing what he wrote with his wife. When he passed away in 1995, his widow found this poem and asked the state to include it with the WWII monument. It certainly provides a more accurate perspective of the war than anything written in a textbook.

And now an abrupt shift to Memorial Day veggie-friendly food. Black bean burgers, corn and sweet potato chips.


Ingredients for Black Bean Burgers:

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup corn
  • 1/4 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 Tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 Tbsp coriander
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup prepared oatmeal
  • Flour, as needed


1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Saute the garlic and onion in olive oil over medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Add the corn, carrots, cumin, coriander, pepper, and salt. Cook another 5 minutes.

3. Mix the black beans and oatmeal together in a bowl. Add the sauteed mixture to the bowl and mix together thoroughly.

4. Roll the burger batter into small balls about 1.5 inches in diameter. Pat the mixture with flour so that it sticks together. Flatten the mixture into a patty and place on a baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the batter.

5. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping the burgers halfway through.

I wrap the burger in foil when they are done and stick them in the freezer. To use frozen burgers, place them in a skillet and heat for 5-10 minutes over medium heat.

Yields 8 burger patties

7 thoughts on ““If my death helps end this war one minute sooner, I consider it worthwhile…” -Vernon Buchanan

  1. Vanessa, I have been enjoying your blog site for some time and just haven’t taken the time to write. But this morning, your homage to the men and women who went to war is amazing. It certainly gives one pause and you were brilliant in your ability to take words in stone and make pictures that have so much emotion. I would nominate you for something, but I just don’t know what. Good job!


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