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Poem for Vietnam War Veterans I knew when I was a child

November 11, 2008

These Brothers They: A Memorial Poem

thesebrotherstheyartlife991

Today is the 90th anniversary of the end of World War 1. Nov. 11, 1918 was the last day of what they considered “The Great War.” My grandfather’s half brother Wilmer “Frenchy” Paquette fought in that war as did his brother Faye Paquette.

Each November 11 is Veteran’s Day in the United States; I understand yesterday November 10 is Remembrance Day in Canada.

It’s not simply a holiday, a day off from school, a day to go shopping at Veteran’s Day sales to shore up our flagging economies.

Veteran’s Day is always celebrated on November 11–to remember the last day of the “Great War,” and those who fought in it, and wars before and since. Like Independence Day, it is not and should not be one of our holidays that we insist on turning into a three day weekend.

When we finally get out of Iraq and Afghanistan, we should have a special day of remembrance, a day set aside to honor those who fought there, and to show respect for all veterans. I pray that day is soon.

I published the broadside above in ArtLife Limited Editions. I published the text and the story behind the poem here on Memorial  Day 2008.  I plan to record this poem and make a video for it too.

Susan Spano of the LA Times visited many of the cemeteries recently for this article. In it she writes,

I stopped at the German cemetery by the noisy Pontina on the way back to Rome. There I was alone with 27,443 enemy war dead who, resting eternally, no longer seemed like anyone’s enemy.

A plaque quoting Albert Schweitzer put the right coda on my journey. “The soldiers’ graves,” it read, “are the greatest preachers of peace.”

susan.spano@latimes.com

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 11, 2008 9:41 pm

    It is a wonderful, moving tribute poem and will make a fantastic reading and video. Respecting and treating returning veterans well is one of the key traits of a civilised society. The returning soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering terribly and we need to get better at reuniting them with their homes. Poetry as effective as your tribute poem serves an important function.

  2. November 12, 2008 7:47 pm

    This is a powerful poem, the repetition at the beginning of each stanza has a good effect. The print out -the drawing- that adds even more emphasis …

  3. November 12, 2008 10:02 pm

    I rather like that there is only one day, the 11th of the 11th of the 11th. Maybe a second day would separate and lose the enormity of the general feeling? Oh, I don’t know. What I do know is that poems are such a powerful message on such days so a big high five to you :)

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