Memorial Day, 2008

I thought this poem was particularly appropriate for the day:

Against the War in Vietnam

Believe in the automatic righteousness
of whoever holds an office. Believe
the officials who see without doubt
that peace is assured by war, freedom
by oppression. The truth preserved by lying
becomes a lie. Believe or die.

In the name of ourselves we ride
at the wheels of our engines,
in the name of Plenty devouring all,
the exhaust of our progress falling
deadly on villages and fields
we do not see. We are prepared
for millions of little deaths.

Where are the quiet, plenteous dwellings
we were coming to, the neighborly holdings?
We see the American freedom defended
with lies, and the lies defended
with blood, the vision of Jefferson
served by the agony of children,
women cowering in holes.

-Wendell Berry, 1968
I was born in that year, and yet the poem seems like it could have been written yesterday. One day, I hope to observe a Memorial Day when we're not creating new things and people to remember.

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