Monday, May 30, 2011

i ain't marching anymore

Adieu to a Soldier

ADIEU, O soldier!
You of the rude campaigning, (which we shared,)
The rapid march, the life of the camp,
The hot contention of opposing fronts—the long manoeuver,
Red battles with their slaughter,—the stimulus—the strong, terrific game,
Spell of all brave and manly hearts—the trains of Time through you, and like of you,
With war, and war’s expression.

Adieu, dear comrade!
Your mission is fulfill’d—but I, more warlike,
Myself, and this contentious soul of mine,
Still on our own campaigning bound,
Through untried roads, with ambushes, opponents lined,
Through many a sharp defeat and many a crisis—often baffled,
Here marching, ever marching on, a war fight out—aye here,
To fiercer, weightier battles give expression.
by Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

today is memorial day - a day set aside to mourn the dead and to give thanks to the men and women who put themselves in harm's way to protect ideals of freedom, democracy and justice.

i do mourn and support the individuals who are called to service.

however, on memorial day, as with every other day, my thoughts go toward thinking of peace and questioning war. i belong to an army of people who believe that there are better ways to protect and promote freedom, democracy, and justice than to take up arms and shed blood.

once more i write with the hope that there will be a day when we can erect a memorial to war and we will no longer have reason to erect memorials and monuments to people who die in wars.

last month i went to see the documentary phil ochs:there but for fortune i was reminded of the incredible body of work left behind when ochs exited this world at the tender age of 35. the film was compelling not only in its portray of ochs but also in its examination of the turbulent 1960s through the incredible archival footage that the filmmaker used in making the film.

the message of phil's songs are as relevant today as they were for the 1960s. the film provides viewers with a unique perspective on many other musicians and activists of the time - including pete seeger, tom hayden, joan baez, peter yarrow, and bob dylan. i seriously doubt the film will make it to the local cinemaplex, i saw it at the cleveland museum of art, if we're lucky perhaps it will make it to pbs - who knows if netflix picks it up.

his tune i ain't marching anymore is among my favorites. what would happen if everyone, everywhere simply refused to fight?

photo: soldiers and sailors monument festooned with peace cranes, cleveland.


Tom said...

what's up with us humans, always pushing and shoving and taking what isn't ours, and now it's the big corporations who don't seem to want to share...we might have another war on our hands soon: to take back America.

California Girl said...

What would happen? Nothing. Wouldn't that be wonderful?

Tom is right about big biz too. I've been on this a bit in my "Women of a Certain Age" blog. Middle America is being squeezed by both sides. The poor and middle classes are enlisting & doing the fight &/or the worker bee work in the factories, businesses, etc. and the rich are paying less, pulling strings to keep their kids out of military service, getting their bedfellows elected.

Anyway, I mourn our dead who fought for things they believed in, good or bad.

jude said...

wow. phil ochs. memories

Murr Brewster said...

I wish the leaders would just stick to pistols at fifty paces and leave the rest of us the hell alone.

Kate Hanley said...

This is probably one of the best Memorial Day tributes I've come across. We need a war on war.

Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

I agree 100% — fighting unjust wars and against the rule of political life by warmongers is the best way of truly honoring those who have fallen in all wars.

Watson said...

We are not alone. My friend Peggy posted on her FB page:

"On this (US) Memorial Day, let's not forget those who struggle for peace and justice, as well as those who have died in battle.... Presente!--Oscar Romero, Dorothy Stang, Ita Ford, Dorothy Kazel, Jean Donovan, Maura Clarke, the Jesuits of El Salvador and their companions, the Trappists of Algeria, the Adorers of the Blood of Christ of Ethiopia, and so many others...."

Perhaps one way to change direction is by focusing on those who work for peace. They go into "battle" without weapons.

Daisy's Barbara, and Daisy too because war isn't good for dog or any living thing.

Tess Kincaid said...

The Whitman piece is just beautiful. I can't help but question war.

karen said...

I ain't marching anymore...I'm not. Unless I'm marching for peace. Wonderful post Kim. I just left a post with a video from Grand Rapids Michigan (considered a dying city) where the folks sang the tune to American Pie. It was so sad to see the city so empty...another cost of war...the decline of our towns and cities because of money wasted on war. Thanks for this post.