26 May 2006

Memorial Day

As Americans begin to celebrate Memorial Day weekend, and talk of record numbers of travelers even with the high cost of gasoline, while gulping down hot dogs and exposing too-white skin to the sun for the first time in months. Let us remember that war we're fighting for the sake of oil.

And right or wrong, remember those who've given greatly for the freedoms they held dear. May they rest in peace.

And right or left, may we remember to give peace a chance.

On a personal note, my beloved grandfather was inspector general of construction in 1958 as two symbolic Unknowns representing the unidentified dead of World War II and Korea were brought home to Arlington National Cemetery and entombed with solemn ceremonies near the Unknown Soldier of World War I, as shown in this family photo of Papaw at the Tomb.

For this I am very proud.

Dear Papaw who enlisted in the Army at the age of 18 too late to fight in that Great War. And too old to fight in the next. May we always remember.

Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime.—
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin,
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

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