Warriors are often the most observant poets:
The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner#######################################
From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.
~~ Randall Jarell, 1945
The Anxious Dead
O guns, fall silent till the dead men hear
Above their heads the legions pressing on:
(These fought their fight in time of bitter fear,
And died not knowing how the day had gone.)
O flashing muzzles, pause, and let them see
The coming dawn that streaks the sky afar;
Then let your mighty chorus witness be
To them, and Caesar, that we still make war.
Tell them, O guns, that we have heard their call,
That we have sworn, and will not turn aside,
That we will onward till we win or fall,
That we will keep the faith for which they died.
Bid them be patient, and some day, anon,
They shall feel earth enwrapt in silence deep;
Shall greet, in wonderment, the quiet dawn,
And in content may turn them to their sleep.
~~Capt. John McCrea (KIA, 1918)
"The Man He Killed"
"Had he and I but met
By some old ancient inn,
We should have sat us down to wet
Right many a nipperkin!
"But ranged as infantry,
And staring face to face,
I shot at him and he at me,
And killed him in his place.
"I shot him dead because –
Because he was my foe,
Just so – my foe of course he was;
That's clear enough; although
"He thought he'd 'list perhaps,
Off-hand like – just as I –
Was out of work – had sold his traps –
No other reason why.
"Yes; quaint and curious war is!
You shoot a fellow down
You'd treat if met where any bar is,
Or help to half-a-crown."
~~ Thomas Hardy (1909)
This is a nice palate-cleanser if you've already grown a weary of the cloying, jingoistic, maudlin, mindless 'patriotism' inundating you amid the even greater flood of sleep-number bed and appliance ads "celebrating" this solemn day:
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. Thank you very very much for letting us little kids live here. It really really was nice of you. You didn't have to do it. And it's really not creepy to have little kids mindlessly recite this anthem every day and pledge their life to a government before they're old enough to really think about what they're saying. This is not a form of brainwashing. This is not a form of brainwashing. This is not a form of brainwashing. This is really the greatest country in the whole world. All the other countries suck. And if this country ever goes to war, as it's often wont to do, I promise to help go and kill all the other countries' kids. God bless Johnson and Johnson. God bless GE. God bless Citigroup. Amen.Dollars to donut-holes the precocious patriots won't hear about this next story until they're safely out of school. I wonder how many of you have heard of it. It's a true story: