MEMORIAL DAY is coming to an end in another few hours . . . I’ve been listening to folks talking on the radio about what this day means to them. I found a poem I’d written a while back, and I think to me, it seems appropriate for this day . . .
First there were the storms
we could not control—being informed,
didn’t make a difference—they still
came and swept away years of life—
the living, storing, saving—cautions
thrown to the wind, and what remained
was stagnant hope. Then courage,
to keep moving forward until
the sorrows were behind and smiles
lit up the porches, and songs found
their words, stories remembered,
shared, recorded in the hearts of those
who braved the hard times
and pulled through.
But what of the wars that came after?
Countless bodies we didn’t see—
the debris was what remained
of lives that were flown in to reboot,
to start anew. Tears unshed,
dreams driven to nightmares, walking
enigmas, stories untold, hearts heavy
with eyes of despair, wives heavy
with child—fatherless, mothers longing,
for lost sons and daughters, empty of words.
For what returned home in spirit, for some,
made no difference from bodies that came rolled
in the flag. Graveyards lined with red,
white and blue—stars and stripes
awarded posthumously. Families torn
wondering if the sons and daughters
they raised with care, were just badges
they proudly wore, while their ashes
morphed, consecrating foreign soil.
And while we groom our children
for their future, we have learned
nothing. We are still talking about war.