The Freelance Traveller (freetrav) wrote,
The Freelance Traveller

Why Do We Have a Memorial Day?

Because I died...

... at Bunker Hill. Grapeshot tore through my body at New Orleans. Crushing hooves with riders as swirls of blue and grey ... and red ... crashed down on me in strange sounding places like Chickamauga, Antietam, and Shiloh.

The heat and swamp sucked at my last moments in the wilds of Cuba. A green fog of poisonous gas slithered over the side and into my trench, where water stood mixed with slime and blood.

I lay face down in fetid pools clogged with jungle vines, felt the hot sands of Africa burning through my back, lay with cold cheek against wet beach sand, and fell from gingerbread doorways into cobblestone streets. I gaped for air and breathed fire and oily water.

Snow clung to my lashes and ice formed at the corners of my mouth as a tiny wisp of seam wafted from the crimson flow of life out of my ears and stomach.

As I fell forward, I felt the jagged pain of bamboo beneath the water tearing at my flesh.

I fought and died when I didn’t know why. I was killed before I was old enough to vote. I never knew the pleasure of savoring the memories that come with old age. I left mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, children, and sweethearts to weep after me. I lay where names and landscapes and faces were all foreign to me. To this day, no one knows where the earth swallowed me.

I was called wop, nigger, dago, spic, kike, honky, and mick. I was tall and short and thin and heavy and young and old and cheerful and sad. I was a shop steward, an insurance agent, a writer, an orange picker, and the head of a grocery chain stretching from Baltimore to St. Louis.

I lived around the corner, up the street, next door, over the garage, across the tracks, on the hill and out of a suitcase. I came from a family farm, a college campus, a factory, a new-car agency, and from Broadway.

I died that we would remain free, that liberty would not perish, that women and children would be safe from terror, that my home would be protected, that an idea would be proven right, that my friend might live, that people back home could make overtime in the plants, and that a sagging economy might be helped.

Sometimes I served my country, sometimes my ideals and sometimes my own ego.

But I served.

On Memorial Day, I hope you pause for a few moments to think on these things. You are still free to think ... and speak ... and publish whatever you wish because I gave the most I had ... my all.

Some of you have known some of my pain, my tears, and the sickness of soul for the waste of human life.

Yet, the giving of my life was not wasted. For perhaps somehow, in some way, people will do something to end my dying.

My death has extended the time given you to do that something.

After the next war, there may be no one left to honor the dead.

— Author Anonymous

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