Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day 25 May 2009

Soldiers are not chunks of identical clay; each of them has a story,
their own reasons for being caught in a war.

Brave? Maybe - sometimes, under some conditions. Scared, mostly.
The younger they are, the more likely their presence had to do with
restlessness, cockiness. The need to be part of a winning team, the
desire to even a score. Kick ass, take names. Kill them all, let God
sort them out.

The older they are, the more realistic they are. This was a steady
paycheck, or a way to supplement the one they already had. When
they join, it's with their eyes on the future benefit. When they're
in the middle of a war, they think only of surviving the next five
minutes. Please, God, please. Let me see my family again.

And when they die in the war, each death leaves a hole in the
world. It's important to remember that, to not see them as a
monolithic casualty list or as an acceptable loss.

No loss is acceptable. Ask the parents, the spouses, the children.
They try. They tell themselves stories of nobility, sacrifice, a
greater cause. They cover it up with the ritual rhetoric. But deep
down, they must wonder.

Here is how to count the cost: In high school graduation pictures
that will never be replaced with wedding pictures.
In wedding
rings that will never be worn smooth by years.
By the daughters
who will walk down the aisle with an uncle
or brother instead
of Dad. By the sons who will find themselves
angry and lost,
not understanding why. The children who
will hear about their
mother's eyes, their father's chin but
won't ever see themselves
reflected in that face.
By the parents who now understand the
quiet obscenity
of outliving their own children.

Each and every one of these deaths left a hole in the world.

That is why we count them.

They mattered

~Susan Madrax, Memorial Day 2005

No comments: