(Written by Buffy Ste. Marie, but this is a great version)
It saddens me that we still need the military. You'd think in this modern world we would have gotten past shooting and bombing as a strategy for diplomacy. But we still have tyrants, 19th century warlords, drug cartels, terrorist extremists, and right-wing neocons driving policy discussions in their own arenas of influence. And from all of those, we still need protection.
So for those who join the military for whatever reason, tragic or heroic, I salute you on this Memorial Day. I wish hopefully that you never are hurt or worse, that your service leaves you feeling uplifted, and that your re-entry into civilian life is smooth.
And for those who are damaged by being involved in a war, my heart goes out to you. I am always mindful of Herbert Read's wrenching poem "Bombing Casualties: 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
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:They are laid out in ranks
wasps' nests are not more wanly waxen
wood embers not so grely ashen.
like paper lanterns that have fallen
after a night of riot
extinct in the dry morning air.