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31 May 2010

Memorial Day 2010 / "Give them not praise. For, deaf, how should they know / It is not curses heaped on each gashed head?" / "It is easy to be dead."

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Memorial Day in the United States is a holiday to honor the military dead of all our wars. It falls on the last Monday of May.
I guess so that we will not run out of war dead to honor, we are currently waging two wars in Asia. To date 4400 men and women in U.S. military uniforms have been killed in combat in Iraq, 1007 killed in the war in Afghanistan; for a total to date of 5407.
Both wars were started by President George W. Bush. President Barack Obama has shifted combat operations from Iraq and is ratcheting up combat operations in Afghanistan.
The flag-draped coffins from these wars are flown back to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. These heartbreaking returns home are shown above. Under a new policy, families of the dead may choose to invite the press to Dover AFB to witness and film and photograph the arrival ceremonies; some families have so chosen.
The dead children of my neighbors -- their troubles are ended. Memorial Day asks Americans to honor only the dead.
Give them not praise. For, deaf, how should they know
It is not curses heaped on each gashed head?
We have no similar holiday to honor -- and help -- the thousands of other soldiers and Marines who have returned home wounded, neurologically and emotionally damaged, legs and arms lost, blind, deaf, alcoholic, addicted, and who will spend the rest of their lives -- much shorter than lives who have not served in combat --  struggling to re-integrate into civilian life.
Charles Hamilton Sorley, a Scot from Aberdeen, was shot in the head and died instantly at the Battle of Loos, in France, on Wednesday 13 October 1915.  His body was never found, but  his kit bag was found and sent home to his family. Inside it they found this poem.
Sorely was the first World War One soldier poet to use the word "millions" -- accurately -- to count the carnage.
Bring our troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq immediately, bring them back alive, safe, whole. As commander-in-chief, President Obama can do this with the stroke of a pen -- the same power Bush used to start these disasters and doom my neighbors' children.
~ ~ ~
When You See Millions
of the Mouthless Dead

Charles Hamilton Sorley (1895-1915)

When you see millions of the mouthless dead
Across your dreams in pale battalions go,
Say not soft things as other men have said,
That you'll remember. For you need not so.
Give them not praise. For, deaf, how should they know
It is not curses heaped on each gashed head?
Nor tears. Their blind eyes see not your tears flow.
Nor honour. It is easy to be dead.
Say only this, "They are dead." Then add thereto,
"Yet many a better one has died before."
Then, scanning all the o'ercrowded mass, should you
Perceive one face that you loved heretofore,
It is a spook. None wears the face you knew.
Great death has made all his for evermore.
Original text: Charles Hamilton Sorley. Marlborough and other Poems. 4th edition. Cambridge: University Press, 1919: 78 (no. XXXIV). First publication date: 1916. Composition date: 1915. Form: sonnet. Rhyme: ababbabacdcdcd


kolengro said...

hi Bob. i leaved a comment for you.
i want to stay in touch. can i write you to email?

Vleeptron Dude said...

Hi Hi kolengro!

uhhh ... i I stand in front of a store with signs in Cyrillic, I can figure out if it's a restaurant or a clothes store ot s Police Station ... it only takes me about 30 minutes.

I REALLY need to get better at reading Cyrillic -- so I can read your Profile.

I post my e-mail address on Vleeptron, but here it is again:

Write! Send me local news! And stay well!