MEMORIAL DAY 2–GONE TO GRAVEYARDS EVERYONE


downloadOne of the stalwart antiwar groups singing meaningful songs when I marched off to war were Peter, Paul and Mary. In a more enlightened, less-sexist era, that would have given Mary top billing. Their seminal “Where have all the flowers gone” encapsulates not only an era of discord and discontent, but the dreams of many and the inexorable ache of their loss for naught- or National honor-or whatever standard you salute. 

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the flowers gone?
Young girls have picked them every one
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the young girls gone?
Gone for husbands every one
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the husbands gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the husbands gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the husbands gone?
Gone for soldiers every one
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago

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

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Gone to flowers, every one
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Different wars have different cachets, different scents, different geographical anomalies-indeed, different dangers. The only common thread was, and is, danger. The unspoken metric is winning. Thus, each Memorial Day weekend, I spend an inordinate amount of time in help, introspection, cameraderie and being there for my fellow members who I have touched or helped. It’s the pay it forward button that I push to take my mind off my mind.

Law Bob Squarepants referred to me once as “madder than a shithouse rat.” I wear that one with pride based on the assumption it meant I was a scrapper. I forgot about the other definition of mad- i.e. crazy. He’s never corrected the sentence so I have no reason to severe our relationship.

Winning -be it in a war or or a claim with the VA, is still a battle. It consumes your mind with what if’s and I shouldas. It takes an interminable amount of time. It takes a toll on all members of a family and often results in divorces. Of course, dying during a war really puts a fork in a marriage too.

Memorial Day is a great way to remember and a sad time of retrospective loss. All the ‘what if he hadn’t been on LRRF that day?’ doesn’t bring him back. There is no DeLorean with a 3 gigahertz flux capacitor to take us back and rescue them or change their fate.

I know that emotion all too well and the involuntary subconscious butt pucker at an old memory as most combat Veterans probably do. What made me curl up into a ball that night just before the mortar hit? Why did Howard intercede for me and not my buddies? How come the guy behind me got toasted by the Bouncing Betty and all I lost was an eye and some skin?

All those what if’s slowly die in our minds with time-thank God for that. It was like a ricocheting bullet around my noggin for a long long time after I came back. Likewise, after 42 years, the memories are far less destructive and the funnier, warmer ones bubble up. Larry getting clap on R&R in Australia of all places. Who would have thunk it? Making bottle rockets out of  c-ration can metal, the PE they used on 60 mm mortars for propellant and a piece of  the baling wire from around the wood boxes for a stick. Idle hands were the devil’s workshop in an explosives candy store. Focus on those memories if you are troubled.

Raise your flags on Monday to the top and slowly let them descend to half-mast.  What the hey? Why wait? There isn’t some stupid law yet that says you can only fly it at half mast for one day, is there? Salute those who won the Golden BB Powerball Lotto and will never live to enjoy their riches. Salute what could have been and what isn’t. But mostly, salute them as there were no braver men and women who were more committed to keeping America in her rightful first position in the pantheon of Nations as the Veterans who selflessly sacrificed their lives for our country. Just remember if you think you’re having a bad hair day on Monday, think about how confining a 2X6 box six feet under must be.

If you’re having a barbecue this weekend, I’d ask you to take a poke at Mary, Peter and Paul’s most excellent anthem of angst and pray we never forget the horror of war and its inevitable aftermath on those left here. Hey, it’s a great song if you’re my age. It doesn’t have any of those weird high notes. That’s why I printed it for you. It pretty much sings what I feel.   War is Hell. as Chesty Puller once said, but combat is something else.

Long may it wave

Lest we forget.

May Howard always walk beside you. Or Andy. Six of one and half a dozen of another.

About asknod

VA claims blogger
This entry was posted in Food for the soul, Memorial Day and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to MEMORIAL DAY 2–GONE TO GRAVEYARDS EVERYONE

  1. Kiedove says:

    Were going to a gathering with candles for those who want to light one. Flag is flying daily.

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