Keeping It Real – February 22, 2019
Alabama Public Radio
Excuse a second comment, but today’s poem-a-day from Poets.org is a fitting comment on this post:
We Were All Odysseus in Those Days by Amorak Huey
A young man learns to shoot & dies in the mud an ocean away from home, a rifle in his fingers & the sky dripping from his heart. Next to him a friend watches his final breath slip ragged into the ditch, a thing the friend will carry back to America— wound, souvenir, backstory. He’ll teach literature to young people for 40 years. He’ll coach his daughters’ softball teams. Root for Red Wings & Lions & Tigers. Dance well. Love generously. He’ll be quick with a joke & firm with handshakes. He’ll rarely talk about the war. If asked he’ll tell you instead his favorite story: Odysseus escaping from the Cyclops with a bad pun & good wine & a sharp stick. It’s about buying time & making do, he’ll say. It’s about doing what it takes to get home, & you see he has been talking about the war all along. We all want the same thing from this world: Call me nobody. Let me live.
I remember WWII veterans in my civic club and at church loving war museums and tributes to their sacrifice. They also complained that youngsters today have no appreciation of how hard it was to save the world, that they were spoiled. I countered that youngsters were enjoying the fruit of the very thing veterans fought to secure – freedom from war, fear, death and destruction. Why not celebrate their ability to live fully and joyfully and with no thought of war, the very thing secured by victory in Europe and Japan? And then there was my Uncle Jack, a WWII army combat veteran and survivor of fierce fighting in the Pacific. When encouraged to hop on one of the Honor Flights so generously provided for his generation, he barked that the world needed to get on from the war – “It’s over, let it go!” he would growl.
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