On this Memorial Day here in the United States, I sit in my quiet den and ponder the savagery of war. Images of battle-ready kids march through my mind, some to their deaths, others to a future without one or more of their limbs, or blind, maimed, mutilated… They’re marching in Afghanistan and – still – in Iraq. And who knows where they will be marching next?
An old song plays in the background:
Once in khaki suits, gee we looked swell,
Full of that Yankee Doodly Dum,
Half a million boots went slogging through Hell,
And I was the kid with the drum!
Say, don’t you remember, they called me Al; it was Al all the time.
Say, don’t you remember, I’m your pal? Buddy, can you spare a dime?
How appropriate that song is – even now, 80 years after it was written (by Yip Harburg and Jay Gorney). Thousands of American vets still face abject neglect and poverty, while politicians mouth hypocritical platitudes about “supporting our troops.” America’s leaders still find wars to fight to grease the wheels of the mighty military-industrial complex.
And the rich get richer, maintaining their power by buying politicians and confusing voters with lies and false promises.
The years have gone by but nothing has changed. They’re marching still, and perhaps they always will. Like so many army ants, programmed to fight and die – or live on in misery and pain.
Today, I grieve with the families of the fallen, and I am filled with rage against the greedy monsters who sent those sons, daughters, wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers “slogging through Hell.”