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Here we are
Standing at our monuments.
The old sit, bemedaled, in their uniforms,
Listening as the bugle sounds forth
Its haunting solemnity. Strange, how
Fallen comrades often change war’s justification.
The first one dying sets the tone,
Defending holy freedom can become,
In the mind of a soldier, simply revenge.
It gets mean. Tombstones line the hillsides.
In the end our “sacred idols” prevail.

Each personal horror
Dies as each man dies,
Until so few living are left
Even to march in the parade paying homage
To their particular war. Finally, there are
Only children pondering over history books.
Yawning and thinking of recess.

Prophets cry out in the streets,
“War is not the answer.
The way to peace is peace itself.”
A person could get kicked out into the alleyway
For saying that soldiers die in vain.
It is a cruel thing to utter.
If it is the truth, a bitter pill indeed.

There must be some glory in the struggle
to the death. We keep returning to it.
Even as the survivors come back broken
And crazy with pain. Not knowing
What to do with it, all we end up with
Are tears and more wounded sons and daughters.
“When will we ever learn,” the poets sing.

The sun shines down on us all on these days in May.
The lilacs bloom, the apple trees are in blossom.
We the living keep vigil, honor the dead,
Stand ready to do it all over again.
It’s what we know.

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