Sunday, May 27, 2012

Memorial Day

The following poem first appeared on this blog on November 10, 2008, for Veterans Day. I am re-posting it here today in memory of all those who have served our country in the Armed Forces. May they be the focus of our gratitude this weekend, along with our prayers to God for those who still serve.

No Words for Korean War

Poets could write of primroses and beach glass
But what meaning would that have for you,
a man who served 51 years ago
in the Korean Theater,
a stage of death so senseless
that nobody in the States wanted
to hear about it
or even to remember.

You were 18
fresh from a land of maple trees
and humble brick bungalows
A place where the fourth of July was marked
by flags
hanging from the front stoop
and boys pushed mowers
over postage stamp lawns.
Your life rolled out in front of you
like so many Iowa farm fields;
a life barely grown
and too young for war's threshing floor.
You found,
and lost yourself,
in Korea;
Porkshop Hill, Bloody Ridge,
crossing the river at Inch'on--
faces of boys you'd just met
blown away in front of you.
You scribbled letters home
not knowing what to say.

As fog skimmed another tranquil Wisconsin lake on a June morning
As thick white snowflakes fell softly
in neighborhoods bedecked with Christmas lights
In Korea
days of humid rain
gave way to snow.
You "dug-in" through the permafrost
to make a bed for your hour of sleep.
Back in the States
they didn’t know
and never thought to ask.

While poets waxed quixotic--
and still do--
of starry skies and pouring tea
What is that to boys and men
for whom the stars have died
and pretense is no more.

Written by Barb Harwood, following personal interviews with Korean and World War II Vets.

"Jesus wept." John 11:35

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