Daily Archives: November 11, 2006

Veterans Day

So we’ve got Armed Forces Day, which is for current members of the military. And we’ve got Memorial Day, which is for past dead members of the military. And today is Veterans Day, which is for past living members of the military.

Happy Veterans Day, guys. Especially my father and brother.

Of course was originally Armistace Day, commemorating the end of World War I. And that’s a day worthy of Owen’s most famous poem.

Wilfred Owen
Dulce Et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!– An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.–
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,–
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori

Happy Birthday, Ma!

My mother, Patricia Marie, was born this day. Some years ago, we won’t say when.

She retired to Florida this year. Was able to sell the house in Fairfax County and use the proceeds to buy a nice little place in the middle of the state. I’d never been to Florida, not before last week when I went to visit Ma’s new place and help install a door.

My mother’s a very private person. Even now I think I’m maybe revealing too much here.

It’s funny. Just now I’m thinking of memories I have of my mother, from when I was a little kid. And the first two that come to mind are, this one time when she was bundling me up to go out ice skating with the other kids and I stepped on her bare foot with my skate, and the other was when my dad got back from Vietnam. And I realize that I’m thinking of times when she cried. Wonder what that means.

When I was learning to drive, when I had my learner’s permit, I remember going out with my parents to drive the neighborhood when it was their turn to drive around for the neighborhood watch. We had this 1975 Buick Skylark. Had an eight track player, and I was playing Bruce Springsteen’s The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle. My mother declared Incident of 57th Street to be the dumbest song she’d ever heard. I don’t know why, but that still tickles me to this day.

As a kid I used to complain about her smoking. She was surprised when as an adult I took up smoking too. I remember her dancing with Nana at my sister’s wedding. And she took me in and took care of me after my first marriage collapsed.