Saturday, November 11, 2006

His orders come from far away no more

Many fine lefty bloggers have written heartfelt tributes to Veteran's Day, and the people we honor on this day:



Steve Gilliard at FireDogLake .

But something skippy said really stood out to me:
we have often maintained that the military is not the problem; it's the politicians who make the wars. the military are the ones that clean up the mess the politicians make.

please take a moment to think of those who had died fighting for this country. take a moment to think of those who, unless a miracle of miracle happens, will die on the sands of iraq at politician's behest.

I wrote an impassioned Speech Final back in college in '69, at dark point in the Viet Nam War. It was a stark and bloody anti-war statement. I still have the speech somewhere in a box. The teacher, a wonderful lefty queen, marked it "A: nearly completely perfect." In those days pre-internet, when we had to do research the old-fashioned way using the Dewey Decimal System, finding anti-war poems to use was tough.

I had discovered Stephen Crane in High School: "The Red Badge of Courage," and considered him to be an early American pacifist. I used some of Crane's poetry in my speech:

Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind.

Because your lover threw wild hands toward the sky

And the affrighted steed ran on alone,

Do not weep.

War is kind.

Hoarse, booming drums of the regiment,

Little souls who thirst for fight,

These men were born to drill and die.

The unexplained glory flies above them,

Great is the battle-god, great, and his kingdom --

A field where a thousand corpses lie.

Do not weep, babe, for war is kind.

Because your father tumbled in the yellow trenches,

Raged at his breast, gulped and died,

Do not weep.

War is kind.

Swift blazing flag of the regiment,

Eagle with crest of red and gold,

These men were born to drill and die.

Point for them the virtue of slaughter,

Make plain to them the excellence of killing

And a field where a thousand corpses lie.

Mother whose heart hung humble as a button

On the bright splendid shroud of your son,

Do not weep.

War is kind.

I also used this piece from Sir Herbert Read titled "Bombing Casualties in Spain":
Dolls' faces are rosier but these were children
their eyes not glass but gleaming gristle
dark lenses in whose quicksilvery glances
the sunlight quivered. These blenched lips
were warm once and bright with blood
but blood
held in a moist bleb of flesh
not spilt and spatter'd in touseled hair.

In these shadowy tresses
red petals did not always
thus clot and blacken to a scar.

These are dead faces:
wasps' nests are not more wanly waxen
wood embers not so grely ashen.

They are laid out in ranks
like paper lanterns that have fallen
after a night of riot
extinct in the dry morning air.

Soldiers, civilians, matters little, because after war so many are dead. But the distinction is that the soldiers volunteered, and then were either nobly deployed, or not.

Which is it this time? Not noble at all. Sad, so sad.