A Measure of Remembrance

In my country the last Monday in May is Memorial Day, reserved for the remembrance of deceased soldiers who defended our homeland. So one of the first things I did this morning was to remember and record the remembrance on my timeline on Facebook. It is for defenders of homelands worldwide, though most of the focus is on the defenders of my own homeland…

memorial day 2018: measure

imagine a field
of all of the fallen
white stones on green lush grass
on a vast series of hillsides
crosses six-sided stars crescents infinity symbols
the visages of the soldiers finely etched into the stone
with the grins and gentle smiles and handclasps
that defined them
and their placement in the field defining them
as defenders

torpedo squadron eight in full complement is there
the unknown soldier is there “known but to god
and his sisters and brothers in arms” it says now
eisenhower and roosevelt and roosevelt and churchhill
and dr james miranda steuart barry (born
margaret ann bulkley)
m*a*s*h units with nurses and docs at rest
submariners snipers grunts grunts and more grunts
jarheads flyboys seabees fuelers bagntaggers

shot down sharkbit shrapneled gassed sliced
at parade rest now
at ease now
unafflicted and unconflicted now
defending the dignity and continuity
of homeland

“the last full measure of devotion”
“between their loved home and the war’s desolation”
“theirs but to do and die”

thank you o defenders
we are here
because you were there

  1. MOMENTS said:

    I like your poem, beautifully crafted as always, Gary. These lines are very well written as they suddenly speed up the rhythm of your poem:

    “submariners snipers grunts grunts and more grunts
    jarheads flyboys seabees fuelers bagntaggers

    As a non-American person, though, I admit I have my difficulties trying to understand Memorial Day. On the one hand, I agree with the fact that those people killed in wars defending the US or any other country should be honored and remembered. I can only think of all the families who have lost so many members in the wars. On the other hand, I do not like the hypocrisy hidden behind that, fact that it too often justifies unnecessary wars to keep the oligarchies in power, the greed for wealth, the unstoppable weapon handle that only causes more inequality between a large majority of poor and impoverished citizens and a wealthy ruling minority.

    In any case, you could submit this poem to Jamie Dedes’ Wednesday Prompt as it honors all these anonymous lost lives which is something I also write about, instead of writing about famous people whom I admire for their courage, wisdom or good deeds. She has already published three poems of mine:


    • Marta, thank you so much. I totally agree with your assessment of the inherent hypocrisy. I once performed Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War” at a slam poetry event. His bitter truth screed begins

      Come, you Masters of War
      You that build all the guns
      You that build the death planes
      You that build the big bombs
      You that hide behind Walls
      You that hide behind Desks
      I just want you to know that I see through your masks.

      And I’ve also quoted Jackson Brown’s “Lives in the Balance,” which was written about our criminal intervention in Nicaragua but equally applies to other fake wars past and present:

      They sell us the President the same way
      They sell us our clothes and our cars
      They sell us everything from youth to religion
      The same time they sell us our wars.
      I want to know who the men in the shadows are
      I want to hear someone asking them why
      They can be counted on to tell us who our enemies are
      But they’re never the ones
      To fight
      Or to die…

      That is why I wrote specifically about defenders, and on Offenders. Memorial Day is for the remembrance of fallen soldiers.

      Thanks again, dear, for your welcome comment. I’m grateful for the chance to clarify this issue.

      • MOMENTS said:

        You are very kind. Thank you for all the clarifications.

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