Another Memorial Day Weekend is upon us, the start of summer, picnics, barbecuese days off from work and soon out of school. As we savor the steaks, ribs or hot dogs and maybe another cold beer, maybe this year as some of our citizens scour the dusty streets of Iraq, or the poppy hills and mountains of Afghanistan, peer at North Korea bent to nuclear self destruct, or sail the blue waters months on end to keep our borders secure, reflect on this day and honor each in his own way their memory and sacrifices and pray no new flags of active forces in the field will need to be folded to the bugle's mournful refrain:
Memorial Day Thoughts
After the last flag has been folded and the taps weeping fades from the air,
In a generation or so the drums begin to rattle, the trumpets begin to blare
The memories of the carnage and broken lives too soon in purge,
Another set of wrongs or thirst for power begins to emerge.
Even surrounded by two wide blue water moats
We too are often drawn to the Martian boats.
A new generation sent by white haired and balding men
Sent afar to pick up the gauntlet once again
No matter how many or how few into combat we would send,
The struggles had a beginning and finally a victory or truce to end
Marked by more plots and flags fluttering in the breeze
Costs of bringing another tyrant or foe to his knees
But now our soldiers face a most unwelcome test
In a war without lines drawn or that ever takes a rest
True, only a new flag folded here, a new flag folded there
Another prime life scarred here, another confined to a chair.
No sweeping battles, no headlines to report
Tours again and again, no longer can time be short.
The Greatest Generation crushed evil and most came back
This new band of Spartans is now under unending attack.
A thin new khaki line living and dieing by the sword
So we here have the chance to enjoy all of life’s rewards.
How do we honor on this Memorial Day our vets and forces in the field
While the barbecues smoked and sizzled and too few church bells pealed?
Maybe Miller’s final words whispered to Ryan in a movie scene.
Live a good life—all else cheapens their deeds, mocks what honor means
Live a good life—so when your short term lease finally comes due
A legacy of honor, honesty, helping hands, morals always true.
© May 28, 2010
Michael P. Ridley