Memorial Day . . . again

by Pari

Every year at this time, I think about writing a new post regarding Memorial Day
. . . and every year, I find that this poem still sums up how I feel.

May your Memorial Day be filled with peace.

Somewhere today . . .

Somewhere today a young woman sits in a muddy blind, her uniform wet through.
She knows she needs to pay attention to what’s happening, that she has to distinguish between a clap of thunder and the burst of a gun.
But all she can do is think of her baby graduating from kindergarten back home . . . without her.

Somewhere today a boy reaches for an automatic with only one hand.
The wind blows dust into his teeth and eyes.
He manages to prop his weapon against a sand-filled sack, using the stump of his other arm—the one where the rebels sliced it off at the elbow—to keep the rifle steady.

Somewhere today a mother waits on the tarmac, watching the military plane land.
It bounces two times on the runway.
Her son would’ve laughed at that.
Through the blur of tired and salty tears, she sees them lift the unadorned casket.

Somewhere today a father stares at the last letter his daughter sent him.
He has memorized every word, read between every line so often it has merged with the next in a confused gray.
Three weeks and nothing.
Not a note, not an email, no text.
He looks to the blue sky and wonders where she is, if she’s all right.

Somewhere today a young woman is shot in a border town
– wrong place, wrong time –
the “collateral damage” of a drug war she’s never played a part in.

Somewhere today a group of young men claim a village for their tribe
kicking children’s toys aside in the abandoned huts of former friends.

Somewhere today war will blast dreams away
cut lives short
and make sorrows long.

I pray
we’ll have no need for this holiday.

11 thoughts on “Memorial Day . . . again

  1. Barbie

    I don't think I'll ever understand a culture/history based on war, when I come from one fundamentally based on peace. We don't have such holiday in Brazil, because there's no need for it.

    May the fallen ones rest in peace, and their families have comfort.

    And the world change soon.

  2. Pari Noskin

    Thank you for your comment. One question though: Hasn't Brazil had wars?

  3. Gar Haywood

    Your poem says it all, Pari. Thank you.

    And God bless all those who have gone to war to protect our right to openly condemn the idiocy of war however and wherever we like.

  4. lil Gluckstern

    Your poem truly speaks to the meaning of this day, a day filled with memories, as it should be.

  5. Debbie

    I thank God that when I hear an explosion overhead it is fireworks; that when I fight it is with words and petitions; that helicoptors bring me the traffic report and not bombs or casualties of war; and that I have never known the fear of war in my neighbourhood, province, and country. My heart goes out to all who fear, who have experienced war, who have lost loved ones over ideology, regardless of whether it was their own or anothers.

  6. Tammy Cravit

    Yes, what Debbie said. And I thank God that, so far, all the men and women I know who serve in the military have come home safely. I know how easily it could not be so.

    I also think about the police officers, firefighters and paramedics who keep us safe at home while the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines of our military keep us safe on the world stage. A bullet is no less dangerous when it comes from a gang-banger's MAC-10 than when it comes from an al Qaeda insurgent's AK-47.

    May all those who serve their community and their country come home safely.

  7. Allison Davis

    I watched Marine Cpl. Nick Kimmel, a triple amputee injured in Afghanistan, throw out the first pitch at the SF Giants game yesterday, someone Barry Zito (who pitched and won the game) has helped through his Strikeout For Troops Foundation. Our entire row at the ballpark wept for all the reasons, the waste of a 21 year old man who had ambitions to be a pitcher and now struggles on prosthetic legs, the fact of war itself, the kind of war, and his courage and strength to be there yesterday, stand up wobbly on his two fake legs and throw the ball with all his strength.

  8. lil Gluckstern

    I watched that as well. It brought tears to my eyes, and I again thought of the terrible destruction of war. I know it's a cliché, but it still rings true. Memorial Day is a bittersweet Holiday.

  9. Pari Noskin

    Debbie, Tammy, Allison and lil,
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts here. We are so incredibly fortunate here not to face war in our daily lives — not to worry about brown bags left in the middle of a square (could be a bomb?), or about the sound of explosions (those fireworks . .. not gun fire or grenades) — and I'm grateful.

    To me, war is such a tragedy no matter what. Too many people die. I understand that there may not be other alternatives — sometimes — but they'll remain tragic for me.

    Courage, strength, waste . . . yes.

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