Memorial Day

NaBloPoMo Day 26!

It’s been a quiet Memorial Day here at McVirgo Manor. McDoc is on call at the hospital, and I puttered around the internet house as usual. I thought of going to a local parade, but then I got interested in the holiday-themed programming on my local public radio station. (As I may have mentioned in the past, In addition to being a music nerd, I am a hardcore NPR nerd). There were interviews with the small number of World War I vets who are still living — I think the youngest one was 105! It was amazing.

I didn’t listen to the radio all day long, honest — but I did turn it on again an hour ago when I sat down to dinner. I happened to catch part of a show called Democracy Now, which can be almost too nerdy-lefty even for me, but since my usual 8 p.m. guy (don’t worry, McDoc is okay with it! πŸ˜‰ ) had the holiday off, I thought I’d see what was shakin’ in commie-lib land. πŸ˜‰

Well, it was heartbreaking. I heard excerpts from an event called Winter Soldier on the Hill, wherein nine Iraq war vets testified in front of the Congressional Progressive Caucus about what’s really going on over there. (In a nutshell: it ain’t pretty.)

Now, I’m a pacifist (a pragmatic one, but still), so I can understand that the average American might dismiss my views on war. But you can’t do the same to these veterans, who signed up for this [insert expletive-laden descriptor of choice here], which is more than most of us, elected officials included, can say.

Anyway, when I first heard the WWI vets this morning, I immediately thought of Britten‘s War Requiem, which I wrote about before. In that previous post, I included a video of the Dies Irae‘s opening section, with all its hellfire and brimstone. Today, though, I think the Lacrimosa section is more apropos. Here’s the Latin text with translation:

Lacrimosa dies illa,
Qua resurget ex favilla,
Judicandus homo reus:
Huic ergo parce Deus.

Oh this day full of tears
When from the ashes arises
Guilty man, to be judged:
Oh Lord, have mercy upon him.

And here’s the Wilfred Owen poem, titled “Futility,” that is interspersed with the Latin:

Move him into the sun β€”
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields unsown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.

Think how it wakes the seeds β€”
Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs so dear-achieved, are sides
Full-nerved, β€” still warm, β€” too hard to stir?
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
β€” O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth’s sleep at all?


On this day, let us remember the fallen, even as we seek to discern what we can do to stop adding to their number.


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