Friday, November 18, 2005

Hate the War, Love the Warriors

Last week, on November 11 (Veteran's Day), I turned 40.

That is a privilege that at least one man in this AP photo will never enjoy.
(AP Photo: Fallujah, 2004. Marines pray over the body of a fallen comrade who died from his wounds at a first-aid point. )

The toll of men and women killed in the War in Iraq and Afghanistan is greater than the numbers. It's also a toll that is felt by the children, widows, widowers, brothers, sisters, parents, friends, commanders, and comrades of those left behind.

In August of this year, Ohio alone lost more than 20 Marines in two days. A number of those young men were not even 21 -- not even old enough to walk into a Cleveland bar and order a beer.

So on my birthday, this year and every year until the war is over, I celebrate for them, and for all the young men and women who for whatever reason agree to President Bush's order to put them in harm's way. I hate the war, but there's no good reason to hate the warriors. They are living a kind of life that most of us can't possibly understand. Those that survive will carry with them forever an experience that will never allow them to see anything the simple way we do.

The song below is a bit of a departure from the usual. It was written by Bob Dylan. The version I'm most fond of was recorded by Julie Miller on her Broken Things album (absolutely stellar if you like it poignant and a little gritty). It's a beautiful ballad. Hearing it used to evoke memories of strolling through the once-bloody fields of Gettysburg. Now I see it is a song that belongs to every soldier.

I hate this war. It sickens me every time I see a new young face of a boy KIA, who died some horrible, shrapnel-laden death without his mother at his side. I never once thought my freedom was in any danger because of some lost and crazy dictator; the Shrub Administration is a far bigger threat to the priveleges of freedom I now enjoy. But my heart has no choice but to recognize those young men and women, and their families, who at any moment might have to give up that last chance to laugh, enjoy a first legal beer, watch a son or daughter be born, say goodbye to a mother and father, or the young love they left behind.

There are many organizations that support the families of fallen soldiers. I encourage readers to consider supporting one to help ease the burden of the families who have lost someone in this war.

"Two Soldiers"
He was just a blue-eyed Boston boy
His voice was low with pain
"I'll do your bidding comrade mine
If I ride back again
But if you ride back and I am left
You'll do as much for me
Mother you know, must hear the news
So write to her tenderly."

"She's waiting at home like a patient saint
Her fond face pale with woe
Her heart will be broken when I am gone
I'll see her soon, I know"
Just then the order came to charge
For an instant hand touched hand
They said "Aye" and away they rode
That brave and devoted band.

Straight was the track to the top of the hill
The rebels they shot and shelled
Plowed furrows of death through the toilling ranks
And guarded them as they fell
There soon came a horrible dying yell
From heights that they could not gain
And those whom doom and death had spared
Rode slowly back again.

But among the dead that were left on the hill
Was the boy with the curly hair
The tall dark man who rode by his side
Lay dead beside him there
There's no one to write to the blue-eyed girl
The words that her lover had said
Momma, you know, awaits the news
And she'll only know he's dead.


At January 25, 2007 5:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

amen, the war sucks, things r gettin worse.

i found this blog by looking for that song, "two soldiers" i love it, it wasnt written by dylan, though. jerry garcia taught it to him (theres a great version of it on the Garcia and Grisman cd) its a song from the time of the civil war

At January 25, 2007 7:35 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Hey Anon,
I love that Grisman/Garcia recording. Full of excellent stuff. I'm not sure where I got my info on that tune, as of course I've heard a million versions since this post a year or so ago.

Thanks for stopping by. This blog don't hide it's anti-war sentiments and you are welcome anytime.


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