Memorial Day 2011 — When Will We Ever Learn?

Warning: If you don’t have a clue about what war really is about, don’t watch these clips!

Memorial Day is one of the holidays that seem to make much sense while at the same time they make no sense at all. There is the tribute we attempt to pay to the soldiers who gave their lives, health and idealism to the wars they fought in the name of many a false god. Even those who have not been physically hurt were emotionally scarred, and for them their war will never be over; many a soldier’s family can attest to that fact. So, the rest of us wants to show the soldiers both our gratitude and admiration for offering their own existence to the angry war gods to save others’ lives.

Yet, all over the world, soldiers are still fighting and falling, atrocities are still taking place, innocent people are still being terrorized, maimed, and killed. What are such holidays good for? What good does it do to repeat such empty rituals year after year, if the horrors remembered don’t keep us from repeating them?

One soldier’s goal may be victory; another’s peace. Whatever their motivation is to fight for a cause, righteous or not, they deserve our respect.

Both my grandfathers fought in WWI, my father fought in WWII. To them especailly, and to all soldiers who have fought, or are fighting now, in one of the countless wars that disgrace the face of the earth, I dedicate this post.

First, the war poem that describes my own attitude towards war. It is by Wilfred Owen, a British soldier whose poems depict the horrors of war and the realization that he and his fellow men — friend or foe — had been lured into the death trap by an age-old lie: Dulce et decorum est/ Pro patria mori (Horace) “It is sweet and becoming to die for one’s country.”

Dulce Et Decorum Est

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.

 Wilfred Owen (1893 – 1918)

For those of you who would like to dig a little deeper into the text, here’s a link to helpful notes on the poem.

While the poem focuses on the horrors of war, the music I’m posting today will focus on peace.

A Playlist Full Of Peace

Peace Pipe  – BT Express
Let’s Live In Peace — The Temptations
Peace To The World — B. B. King, Gene Harris, Morris, Philip Super Band
La la Peace Song –Al Wilson
Salaam Peace — Bongo Herman, Les Davis and Bunny
My Song Is Peace — Pulse
Peace and Harmony (So much Love) — Winston Jarrett
Peace — Jimmy Cliff

It’s Time For Peace — Bohannon

My heart is aching when I think of  the husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, children, grandmothers, grandfathers, sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews, and friends whose hearts will be heavy this weekend with sadness and grief over the loss of a loved one to war. My thoughts are with all the soldiers on this planet, and I hope — against all odds — that they all will return from the battlegrounds unharmed in body and soul. And finally I wish that all the fallen soldiers will rest in peace and that they will be justly rewarded for their sacrifices.

Songs of Peace



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