Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day, 2008

"Harvest of Death" Matthew Brady Studios

by Carl Sandburg (1878 - 1967)

PILE the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo,
Shovel them under and let me work--
I am the grass; I cover all.

And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?

I am the grass.
Let me work.

(I believe that a patch of grass might be the only fitting monument for a grunt)

This poem was written by Stephanos, a Flag Sergeant (equivelant to a First Sergeant by today's ranking) in the service of Alexander in Afghanistan. It is inscribed on a stone stele by a mass grave of Macedonian soldiers who had recently been killed by Bactrian raiders. It still stands today.

In the company of soldiers
I have no need to explain myself
In the company of soldiers
everybody understands.

In the company of soldiers,
I don't have to pretend to be the person I'm not
Or strike that pose, however well-intended, that is expected
by those who have not known me under arms.

In the company of soldiers all my crimes are forgiven
I am safe
I am known
I am home
In the company of soldiers.

327 B.C.E.

Now, go barbeque and shit like that.