IF I HAD MY WAY...
Here's a Memorial Day post of some Kurt Vonnegut stuff (without permission, of course):
From the chapter "When I Felt The Bullet Enter My Heart"
"We are gathered here, friends...to honor...children dead,
all dead, all murdered in war. It is customary on days like this to call such
lost children men...I do not say that children at war do not die like
men, if they have to die. To their everlasting honor and our everlasting shame
they do die like men, thus making possible the manly jubilation of patriotic
holidays. But they are murdered children all the same."
Here's the part that always got me:
"And I propose to you that if we are to pay our sincere
respects to the hundred lost children of San Lorenzo, that we might best spend
the day despising what killed them; which is to say, the stupidity and
viciousness of all mankind.
Perhaps, when we remember wars, we should take off our clothes and paint ourselves blue and go on all fours all day long and grunt like pigs. That would surely be more appropriate than noble oratory and shows of flags and well-oiled guns..."
And that passage led me to extrapolate the song "Already" from it:
When I felt the bullet enter my heart
I felt more like casualty than hero
Though that's not how you'll remember me
How will you remember me?
Glory glory hallelujah
Don't let anyone fool you
A beating heart's more glorious than a purple one
If I had my way there'd be no Memorial Day
Or armies to fight in
Or boundaries to fight over
If that sounds naive, then that sounds naive
Consider that there's no blood left in my brain
Then I had this dreadful thought...
I will miss
I will miss
I will miss
I will miss everything
I'm already dead
Fighting For Slavery
And then these lines occurred to me last night and this morning. Didn't have much of a chance to flesh them out, but here they are:
No one ever says you're fighting for slavery
For tyranny, hegemony
That would just be uncool
So they convince you it's for liberty
For freedom, democracy
Who are they trying to fool
What are they trying to pull
One More Memorial Day Thought
And I've mentioned this on the blog before, but it bears repeating. My paternal grandfather was Lt. Col. in the 5th Army and was stationed in Italy during WWII. Long story short, there was a hard winter and he didn't get the winter clothes he had requested, so his men suffered and he felt responsible. He suffered a nervous breakdown and was sent home.
That's the basic story that I've heard. The family didn't talk about it a lot, and I don't think that my grandfather himself ever once mentioned to me the war or his role in it. So that's all I really have to go on, what I've been told a time or two about what happened.
By all accounts, my grandfather was never the same after that. Of course, I wouldn't know the difference since I came along a good 25 years or so later.
And I guess that's why it was always somewhat creepy to me to hear my grandmother say "I love the military." Not that my grandmother was creepy or anything--quite the contrary, she was actually very cool. But she had this inexplicable good feeling for the military, even though war screwed up her husband. I guess it's kind of like the "Laptop Bombardiers" --when you're not the one fighting, you think the fighting is pretty cool.
But my father, who escaped Vietnam only by having had an inherited bone disorder that left his hip less than ideal (but perfectly useful), was not into that at all and didn't want me playing with plastic "army men" or even toy guns. So he helped break the military career path of our family (his father and grandfather were West Pointers), for which I am thankful.
And now, with my own son, I must concur with Truckstop Honeymoon's great tune "No Child Of Mine": "no child of mine/is gonna die for the oil man...I will sacrifice no child of mine/it's too high a price to pay for/nothing but a ribbon to hang upon my door."