Before we entered into this war Mike and I walked with about 25,000 other people in the streets of Portland, Oregon, who thought it was a poor idea. The news this week that we've now lost 4000 (and an untold number of Iraqis dead) left me numb. I came of age in the Vietnam era but only attended one protest in college, then married my ex who had served four years in the Navy in that war. Recalling the many ways he was psychologically damaged, while remaining bodily unscathed, I know that the Iraq War is a tragedy that will have enormously negative repercussions for us in the decades ahead.
I remember my mother's stories about World War II (she was the head hostess in the officers' hall at Fort Lewis, Washington, back then). This morning when I was upstairs looking at the clutter that paralyzes me so, my eyes landed on one of the books in her small bookcase I kept after her death. The title is, Reveille -- War Poems by Members of Our Armed Forces, and is copyrighted in 1943 by A. S. Barnes and Co., Inc., New York. I paged through the book and this particular poem struck me as prescient.
REMEMBER THEM SINGING
-by Sergeant Charles E. Butler, U.S.A.
Remember them singing, when they do not sing:
Remember them laughing, when they laugh no more:
Remember them running through the fields in spring,
Or skating the frozen lake, far out from shore.
Remember their children, though they will leave no
No girls with yellow hair and amazing faces:
Remember them: they will go down with guns
On strange and alien ways, mid alien faces.
Remember them thinking of houses, or seeing trees
By garden walls that they will never build:
Them Time and Man have nurtured to be killed.
Remember the young men, Time, who call good-by,
Laughing and young, who are about to die.