Memorial Day Grave



This is dedicated to all my brothers and sisters who have worn the uniform, walked the wall, stood on hollowed ground, suffered the grief of loss, known the heat of battle, tasted defeat and victory, shared the company of comrades, broken bread with kindred souls, and donned the tags for flag and country! And especially to all those who gave “the last full measure of devotion.”



In granite, marble and simple stone blocks
Dates and names are carved in endless number:
Cemeteries of brave devotion in rows and walks
Where the slain heroes of our nation slumber.
Oh, Maytime celebration and tradition
Evoke such remembrances and respect:
A brief tribute, a toast of recognition,
A day to honor the dead and reflect.
For flag and country these battles were fought
And these precious lives we sacrificed and gave.
With their blood, peace and liberty were wrought:

Once a year, freedom lives in a Memorial Day Grave.

Marching bands and smirking, festive parades pass by
And wreaths are strewn among frolicking picnic crowds.
Darkness exhumes these tombs of infinite earth and sky,
And patriotism decays beneath holiday shrines and shrouds!
But in some small contrite gestures of impious shame,
A lonely banner is left above each passive stone,
Until another desolate war and another forgotten name
Are added to the hallowed rows lying sullen and alone.
And though the flags fly wild, they are worn and old,
And the endless stretch of graves is covered with neglect.
Though the hours of tribute may be a thousandfold,

From life, there is no greater gratitude death can expect!

Yet here, with my own modest offering to place above
The sepulcher of one who sleeps loveless and forlorn,
I grope to ponder the essence of freedom and love
That I am sanctioned on holidays to honor and mourn!
For what is patriotism, but cemeteries of lost causes?
When none dare counts or remembers the losses?
Who in their comfortable havens of liberty and security
Can surrender these sacrosanct stones to holiday obscurity?
The flowers wilt and rage amidst the Maytime solitude
As last year’s old, tattered flag I stoop to claim and save.
The shameful dirge is silenced and darkness is renewed,

While freedom lies dead again in a Memorial Day Grave.



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