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Veterans Day

Day 38

I wrote this five years ago. I remember the day I left home, the first day alone, away from family and immersed in a world I knew nothing about. It is a wake-up call.

It starts with a tearful goodbye and a lonely car, bus or plane ride. It is filled with questioning – am I doing the right thing, will I be missed, and will I come home? Images of family, friends and children you don’t even know come into your mind – even those in countries you cannot even imagine. The decision to serve your country is not an easy one. It holds a promise of a better life even though many never live to see it. It is a life where fear is cloaked with hope. A soldier doesn’t question; they depend on the patriots at home to keep the government accountable. They answer the call again with every waking day. I am forever grateful for the experience and am haunted by the lives lost – both mentally and physically. I will never forget our graduation day when some of my classmates were still being called into service. I hope we don’t forget those whose choice was made for them. On this day, I honor all who started their day with that tearful goodbye and the families that are forever changed by one young person’s decision to serve.

Going to war is something I cannot imagine. I was spared that horror. I also grew up in the time of the drafts when young men were pulled by lottery to serve. The current generations do not know our understand that fear. I lost one friend in Vietnam. He was deemed a hero because he sacrificed his life to save his fellow soldiers.

This Rod McKuen poem touches much of how I feel about war and the unimaginable horrors our soldiers face. There is nothing glamorous about war.

Soldiers who wanna be
Heroes number practically zero
But there are millions
Who wanna be civilians

Come and take my eldest son
Show him how to shoot a gun
Wipe his eyes if he starts to cry
When the bullets fly

Give him a rifle, take his hoe
Show him a field where he can go
To lay his body down and die
Without asking why

Soldiers who wanna be
Heroes number practically zero
But there are millions
Who wanna be civilians

Sticks and stones can break your bones
Even names can hurt you
But the thing that hurts the most
Is when a man deserts you

Don’t you think it’s time to weed
The leaders that no longer lead
From the people of the land
Who’d like to see their sons again?

Soldiers who wanna be heroes
Number practically zero
But there are millions
Who wanna be civilians

God, if men could only see
The lessons taught by history
That all the singers of this song
Cannot right a single wrong

Let all men of good will
Stay in the fields they have to till
Feed the mouths they have to fill
And cast away their arms

Soldiers who wanna be
Heroes number practically zero
But there are millions
Who wanna be civilians

Rod McKuen

To those who served and those who sacrificed, I honor you. Not the fight, not the war, the men and women who put country before everything.

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5 thoughts on “Veterans Day”

  1. Dearest Maggie…

    The verse that simply writes rings so true…

    Don’t you think it’s time to weed
    The leaders that no longer lead
    From the people of the land
    Who’d like to see their sons again?

    What indeed has this world learned about fighting the flesh and blood of other living beings? Nothing I believe for we all still stsnd in active wait for the world to live in peace just as it wishes those who pass before us to live in after their death.

    A beautiful tribute to Veterans Day Dear Maggie…

    Where have all the young men gone?
    Long time passing
    Where have all the young men gone?
    Long time ago
    Where have all the young men gone?
    Gone to soldiers every one
    When will they ever learn?
    When will they ever learn?
    Where have all the soldiers gone?
    Long, long time passing
    Where have all the soldiers gone?
    Long time ago

    Where have all the soldiers gone?
    Gone to graveyards every one
    When will they ever learn?
    When will they ever learn?

    Part of a song that questions why the senceless wars have to be…

    Thankyou for Sharing
    xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wars proclaim temporary winners until someone new rises up wanting something that someone else possesses until we fight all over again. It is a senseless killing of youth to play an old man’s game. And those young people hold all the honor because they believed they were fighting for the ‘good’ side. Thank you for your comment, Tanya.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Maggie, I remember so well the friends that went to Vietnam. Some never returned and some did but were not the same. I remember being so naive that I thought my writing poetry to protest the war would have some effect.
    I have a picture of my grandfather from WWI. He was so proud of his service. My uncle served in WWII and in the Korean War. While i detest war, I am so proud of their commitment and desire to serve our country. Any person willing to put their life on the line for their love of their country is a hero in my eyes.
    Lauren

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We were all naive, Lauren. The losses to generation after generation were devastating. The holocaust, however, was a reason for every country to rise up and fight. That was genocide. And now there is genocide everywhere. War and armies feed the hate as do the viscious words of careless politicians who seemingly have nothing to lose. I am proud of all those in my family who served, as I am proud of my service. Those who serve do so out of love and dedication.

      Liked by 1 person

I appreciate those who read and enjoy your thoughtful comments.

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