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