Monday, May 25, 2015

In memoriam

My dad served in the air force during World War II and the Korean "conflict." He's been gone for some years now and, most of the time, I'm not aware that I miss him. Like too many fathers and sons I've know, we struggled to get along and understand each other. Without men like my father, and other members of "The Greatest Generation," who would we hippies and rock and rollers have had to rebel against? I've noticed that what passes for leadership these days doesn't offer much prospect of The Greatest Generation's being superseded any time soon.

grass with wild flowers
grass with wild flowers
Photo by J. Harrington

I had thought that since the Korean conflict was a United Nations "police action" and the U.S. never formally declared war, it may have been the unfortunate start of a number of other military actions in which the elected leadership of this country put successive generations "in harm's way" without what I consider full national accountability, i.e. a declaration of war. A quick review of "Declaration of war by the United States" on Wikipedia proves me correct, but it was Truman's decision to not ask for a declaration. It does seem to me that, before this country again gratuitously commits the lives of its citizens, fathers, sons, mothers, daughters, brothers, sisters, to conflict, those who are least likely to be called to bear arms should display their leadership responsibility more transparently, but then, unlike me, you may not be fed up with and dismayed by the growing chorus of "I voted against" before "I voted for." Let me phrase it this way: if I owned a business, any business, I'd be much more likely to hire a veteran than an ex-politician. What does that say about those we continue to vote for? Why can't we do as well at the ballot box as we do on the battlefield, or have they become linked?

grass
grass
Photo by J. Harrington

Grass

By Carl Sandburg 

Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work—
                                          I am the grass; I cover all.

And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
                                          What place is this?
                                          Where are we now?

                                          I am the grass.
                                          Let me work.