via We Veterans Thank You
Two score and four years ago, my uncle returned from the Vietnam War to being ‘cursed, ridiculed’ and possibly assaulted because we blamed the soldiers for our government’s execution of foreign policy. And I do mean ‘our’ government, since, for better or worse, our government is of, by and for the people. We did this. There is no one else we can blame.
In the intervening decades until his retirement in 1998, he returned from other wars to a very different homecoming. For that, I’m eternally grateful. By the time he returned from both Gulf Wars, I was no longer in the second grade where I was oblivious and sheltered from world events, but during a time when I had children of my own in grade school whom I wanted safe and sound.
For his service and sacrifice, he has my gratitude. As do all his contemporary veterans.
War is an unpleasant business. Some wars are necessary; some are not. Regardless, it is terrible to send our sons and daughters to kill or be killed. But, until we learn not to practice war anymore, I’m happy that America has learned not to blame those sent for being sent.
— Col. Ronald Andrea, USAF, Retired
This morning I woke early, as I nearly always do, but with a melancholic mood fogging my mind. Two Hallmark movies and a cup of hot tea later and I still could not shake the malaise. I turned off the television and grabbed the closest half-finished book handy and continued my perusal of Cosmic Discoveries with David Levy. The subtitle for chapter nineteen was a quote I’ve heard many times but which I had never read the original source. Since the chapter also started with another quote from the same work with a byline to the poet, I decide there’s no time like the present to read the original poem.
My tablet was charging across the room so I grabbed my smartphone and searched on the phrase and poet and got a crazy amount of hits – no surprise. I read the Wikipedia article first to get some background on the poet and the when and partial why he wrote his now famous and often quoted poem. Next, I returned to my results (from Wikipedia) and selected the first hit that contained the complete short poem.
I read it three times, because I read somewhere or was told by someone you should always read a poem three times. I didn’t make it through the third stanza of the first reading before I couldn’t see my screen for the tears. Damn poets! And at one point in my life I actually aspired to be a poet. But life pretty much crushed the creativity out of me so I just enjoy those who had more courage than I to pursue their creative spark.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
— Dylan Thomas, ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night‘
Reading this poem today reminded me of the sometimes quiet, always courageous sacrifices willingly given to us by our military service men and women. Their continuing fight against the dying of the light allows me, my family, my friends, my acquaintances, my coworkers – all of us living in this great country that is the home of the brave and the land of the free – because of them.
Thank you, veterans, for your service.
Thank you for not going gently into any night and raging against the dying of the light to keep us safe and free.