Conflicted Memorial Day - 2008
Texas capital building rotunda,
Noon, Memorial Day, 2008,
Texans gathered with strollers,
in wheel chairs, in red, white ,
and blue , in rainbow tie -dye
in business suits - tattooed,
crew cut, uniformed, informal
Some waved the stars and stripes,
Others wore buttons crying for peace,
Some pledged allegiance. Others
stood silent. My grand daughter pledged
serious, intent. I followed suit.
Other's stood quiet,. But all of us came,
in respectful memoriam, to soldiers,
sailors, marines who have feared,
cried in homesickness, overcome
both, fought, killed, struggled
with conscience, suffered, died,
in loyalty, hope, patriotism, terror,
obedience, confusion, desperation
and to those who will. I remembered
Don Boyles, who came to town the
night before he shipped out for Viet Nam.
I wonder if I was the last girl he kissed.
He died in a helicopter crash three
weeks later, trying to rescue buddies.
Each time I visit the Viet Nam Memorial
I, trace his name with my fingers, place
a flower in memory of his, free laughter, weep.
But today, I held my grandson's hands
tightly and internally paraphrased
the country song. "Mamas don't
let your babies grow up to be soldiers."
I may be a pacifist, a believer in
the dangers of blind patriotism,
a citizen of the world more than
of the U.S.A. but when we sang
"America the Beautiful", Al wept
tears dripping into the children's hair.
Nothing's simple. Memorials matter.