Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day

I honor our fallen every day. I honor their families, who are grieving. I honor the soldiers who are still fighting and their families who are waiting for them to come home. My family has its own fallen to grieve today. We have our own loved ones who came home safe from Iraq very recently, and we rejoice in their safety while at the same time we are sad because they came home wounded in ways we can not see or ever understand. We are still waiting, hopefully, for others, who say that they will not come home until the very last of "their own" have returned safely, and we honor that choice. That's what family does.

I do not now, nor have I ever supported this war. I do not honor the men in power who chose to wage it from afar, using honorable young men and women as cannon fodder. And I think that's all I have to say about that. This poem is one I post every year because it just says it better.

Dulce Et Decorum Est
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 disappointed shells that dropped 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 floundering 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,
Obscene as cancer, 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.

3 comments:

geogrrl said...

Ah, Dulce et Decorum Est. One of the greatest war poems. Ever.

My family also has members serving in Afghanistan (Canadian forces) and some who did and did not come back from WWI and WWII at the Somme, at Vimy, at Dieppe, and in Burma. Those who came back, while physically sound, had permanent, invisible wounds. Nerves that were permanently shot, and memories of events they never wanted to talk about, never wanted to revisit. When asked, they would just say, "Don't ask me. I don't want to remember."

Thanks for posting this poem.

Roxie said...

"It is sweet and proper to die for patriotism" Who came up with THAT shit? Every time I see someone in a military uniform, I try to get a chance to shake his or her hand and say, "Thank you for taking care of me." I'm with you. I honor the warriors but not the war.

Will Pillage For Yarn said...

Actually more like, "to die for one's country." as in this case, "patria" refers to the motherland.

it's an amazing poem. No less true now than when it was written.