Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

I hope everyone is having a good and reflective Memorial Day. I finished a book yesterday appropriate for today called Behind the Lines: Powerful and Revealing American and Foreign War letters and One Man's Search to Find Them edited by Andrew Carroll. The letters are from soldiers and family members from wars that Americans have fought in from the American Revolution through today's wars Iraq and Afghanistan. It's an excellent book and Mr. Carroll has dedicated himself to preserving war letters throughout the world through the Legacy Project. A most worthy and important cause.

1 comment:

Govt Monitor said...

As a side note "Behind the Lines" is also the US title for the film version of Pat Barker's novel "Regeneration" about Craiglockhart hospital in Scotland where Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sasson (both well known poets of WWI) met.
Owen was killed a couple of days before the end of the war.
Writing a couple of years after Sassoon, in a poem appropriate for memorial day called "Aftermath" asked:

HAVE you forgotten yet?...
For the world's events have rumbled on since those gagged days,
Like traffic checked a while at the crossing of city ways:
And the haunted gap in your mind has filled with thoughts that flow
Like clouds in the lit heavens of life; and you're a man reprieved to go,
Taking your peaceful share of Time, with joy to spare.
But the past is just the same,—and War's a bloody game....
Have you forgotten yet?...
Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you'll never forget.

Do you remember the dark months you held the sector at Mametz,—
The nights you watched and wired and dug and piled sandbags on parapets?
Do you remember the rats; and the stench
Of corpses rotting in front of the front-line trench,—
And dawn coming, dirty-white, and chill with a hopeless rain?
Do you ever stop and ask, "Is it all going to happen again?"

Do you remember that hour of din before the attack,—
And the anger, the blind compassion that seized and shook you then
As you peered at the doomed and haggard faces of your men?
Do you remember the stretcher-cases lurching back
With dying eyes and lolling heads, those ashen-grey
Masks of the lads who once were keen and kind and gay?

Have you forgotten yet?...
Look up, and swear by the green of the Spring that you'll never forget.