This coming Monday, May 31st, is a day of profound sadness for me. There will be flags waving, but mostly I see gravestones.
On Memorial Day I do honour the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives for their country. I also honour all those brave soldiers who are willing to make that sacrifice in today’s wars.
Mostly however I am depressed that after thousands of years we still have found no better way to resolve our conflicts then through the slaughter of present, and future, generations in war.
I hate war with every fiber of my being. Of course almost everyone hates war. We just don’t hate it enough.
Will we ever learn?
A March in the Ranks Hard-Prest, and the Road Unknown
By Walt Whitman
A march in the ranks, and the road unknown,
A route through a heavy wood with muffled steps in the darkness,
Our army foil’d with loss severe, and the sullen remnant retreating,
Till after midnight glimmer upon us the lights of a dim-lighted building,
We come to an open space in the woods, and halt by the dim-lighted building,
‘Tis a large old church at the crossing roads, now an impromptu hospital.
Entering but for a minute I see a sight beyond all the pictures and poems ever made,
Shadows of deepest, deepest black, just lit by moving candles and lamps,
And by one great pitchy torch stationary with wild red flame and clouds of smoke,
By these, crowds, groups of forms vaguely I see on the floor, some in the pews laid down,
At my feet more distinctly a solider, a mere lad, in danger of bleeding to death, (he is shot in the abdomen,)
I stanch the blood temporarily, (the youngster’s face is white as a lily,)
Then before I depart I sweep my eyes o’er the scene fain to absorb it all,
Faces, varieties, postures beyond description, most in obscurity, some of them dead,
Surgeons operating, attendants holding lights, the smell of ether, the odor of blood,
The crowd, O the crowd of the bloody forms, the yard outside also fill’d,
Some on the bare ground, some on planks or stretchers, some in the death-spasm sweating,
An occasional scream or cry, the doctor’s shouted orders or calls,
The glisten of the little steel instruments catching the glint of the torches,
These I resume as I chant, I see again the forms, I smell the blood,
Then hear outside the orders given, Fall in, my men, fall in;
But first I bend to the dying lad, his eyes open, a half-smile gives he me,
Then the eyes close, calmly close, and I speed forth to the darkness,
Resuming, marching, ever in darkness marching, on the ranks,
The unknow road still marching.
Choose by Carl Sandberg
The single clenched fist lifted and ready,
Or the open asking hand held out waiting.
For we meet by one of the other.