Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Old Postcard Wednesday--World War I Soldier






The handwriting is my mother's notation describing the soldier pictured on this old photo postcard. He was her cousin, Hewitt Swearingen, who died in action in France during WWI. She was an infant when he was killed but she grew up loving stories of him told to her by his father, Ernest.

She always honored Hewitt's memory on Veteran's Day.

Now it's my turn..........




A music video of Motörhead: 1916 from the album 1916. This song is composed by Lemmy Kilmister.(uploaded by undeadwarrior69)

1916 - Lyrics

16 years old when I went to the war,
To fight for a land fit for heroes,
God on my side, and a gun in my hand,
Chasing my days down to zero,
And I marched and I fought and I bled and I died,
And I never did get any older,
But I knew at the time that a year in the line,
Is a long enough life for a soldier,
We all volunteered, and we wrote down our names,
And we added two years to our ages,
Eager for life and ahead of the game,
Ready for history's pages,
And we brawled and we fought and we whored 'til we stood,
Ten thousand shoulder to shoulder,
A thirst for the Hun, we were food for the gun,
And that's what you are when you're soldiers,

I heard my friend cry, and he sank to his knees,
Coughing blood as he screamed for his mother,
And I fell by his side, and that's how we died,
Clinging like kids to each other,
And I lay in the mud and the guts and the blood,
And I wept as his body grew colder,
And I called for my mother and she never came,
Though it wasn't my fault and I wasn't to blame,
The day not half over and ten thousand slain,
And now there's nobody remembers our names,
And that's how it is for a soldier.


.

13 comments:

Owen said...

Beautiful post, postcard, the lyrics... brings it all home when there are memories in the family I guess... Last week I visited two American cemeteries in France from World War One; very moving places. The largest US cemetery in Europe is at Romagne sous Montfaucon, with over 14000 graves, it is larger than the perhaps better known one at Omaha Beach from the second war... And just posted a photo from the Aisne-Marne cemetery near Belleau Wood.

Do you know any more about your Mom's cousin ? Where did he fight ? Is he buried in France ?

Les AuCoin said...

Hauntingly, heart-wrenchingly beautiful ...

As I read these stanzas--and thought how aptly/cruelly they apply to young Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq--another lyric crept into my mind, from Blowin' In The Wind:

"When will they ever learn ...?"

kj said...

a chilling deep song and lyrics. i can't believe how well the words and images fall together, and then they also manage to rhyme.

very touching on this day, lydia. thank you.

Catherine said...

what a beautiful postcard...lovely historic family remembrances here...

Margaret Pangert said...

So sad, Lydia. That was so long ago, and yet today we're still deploying people overseas for war. How vulnerable those young men looked in the video, so civilized. This was such a meaningful post today, Lydia. Thank you.

Rhiannon said...

As you know Lydia, I love vintage postcard photos and this one is such a sad tale indeed.

Here we are still "battling on" for over 8 years now...when will it end? I asked myself this question today on Veterans day and posted 3 video songs that I hope will give all of us some food for thought.

It's most definitely time for a big "Change"...no more war...enough is enough..and for what at this point? I still don't get it and may never.

Sorry, been having a "battle" of sorts of my own in regards to living in an apartment where the man upstairs is up all night and weighs over 300 lbs...been working on legal paperwork and standing up for myself requesting for a 3rd floor apartment here and looks like my "battle" may turn out successful..and without any physical injury to me or anyone else...other than the manager here and the county housing authority trying to intimidate and make me to afraid to speak up and stand up for myself...not easy but once again me facing another "fear" and getting through it.

Tired but inner spirit feeling more empowered.

Hope you are well. Stay warm.

Love, Rhi

Lydia said...

To readers who come to comments for follow up: I encourage you to read Owen's post for Veteran's Day

@Owen- I just spent some precious minutes at your blog looking at several posts with such awesome photos. You are an expat extraordinaire in your vision!
Sad to say that I know so little about Hewitt. He was single when he joined up. He was an only child and is buried next to his parents in the cemetery in Kansas City, Missouri. I would love to know the particulars of how and when his remains were sent home.

@Les- Thank you for your appreciation of the post and for your illustration of the sad folly that continues on and on and .....

@kj- The song is so beautiful and poignant and I wish it were better known . . .

@Catherine- Welcome, and thank you for your kind comments this day.

@Margaret- Your thoughts were similar to mine regarding the times. And the boys looked civilized, I agree, but what horrid uniforms they had...the boots look so thin.

@Rhi- I will come to see the videos you posted to commemorate the day. Have been hoping things in your world were smoothing out and it does seem victory is at hand. I'm so glad for you. :)

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Oh Lydia - how i have missed OPW this past couple of weeks, just had to use a few of my library minutes to pop by and say what a great postcard xx

Also: who knew Lemmy could write words as poetic as that - Motorhead are most famous here for their single "Ace Of Spades" (fantastic rock song, yes, subtle, no)

Keep up the good work xx

Phivos Nicolaides said...

This is so good post full of meanings...

~ Tabitha ~ said...

From History to Motorhead-cha!
Great post,Lydia ;)

Lydia said...

@Pixies- Now you have me wondering why you are using the library for blogging....guess I need to catch up at your blog too! Thanks, as always, for being here.

@Phivos- I'm happy it spoke to you. :)

@Tabitha- Strange how seemingly disparate things can seem made for one another, eh?

Jennifer said...

Well, that just socks me in the gut.

I don't know if you've ever read Pat Barker's Regeneration Trilogy, which is about British WWI soldiers, including poets Siegfried Sasson and Wilfred Owen and the whole idea of shell shock/battle fatigue/PTSD, but I would recommend it. It's historical fiction, well-told and award-winning.

Lydia said...

@Jennifer- No, have not read Pat Barker. Have written it down to pursue and thanks so much.

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