Monday, May 26, 2008

A Poem for Memorial Day

The one thing one can say for certain about how those who have lost loved ones in America's wars -- particularly the ongoing ones -- feel today is that there is no single statement that will cover everyone. Some will feel that any questioning of the current war is an insult to their loved ones; some will feel that not questioning a war based on lies is an insult; some will simply want to remember or cry. (Hell, there are probably a few who just want to barbecue. People are weird.)

So this poem won't fit everyone's interpretation of the meaning of today. But it is what I thought of. I've posted it before, but it seems appropriate to post it again to mark today's meaning as I experience it (knowing some will be offended by that interpretation just as some will be in agreement with it).
The Invasion of Grenada

I didn't want a monument,
not even one as sober as that
vast black wall of broken lives.
I didn't want a postage stamp.
I didn't want a road beside the Delaware
River with a sign proclaiming:
"Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway."

What I wanted was a simple recognition
of the limits of our power as a nation
to inflict our will on others.
What I wanted was an understanding
that the world is neither black-and-white
nor ours.

What I wanted
was an end to monuments.

-- W. D. Ehrhart, 1984
(From Stewart O'Nan's anthology The Vietnam Reader, p. 679)

To all those today is meant to honor: RIP.

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