90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
In Memoriam: Of War and Poetry

On Memorial Day, we read the poetry of war from the past to the present — from Homer to Iraq War veteran and poet Brian Turner.

U.S. Army 1st Lt. James Rathmann says farewell to his best friend and fellow 1st Lt. Salvatore Corma during a burial in West Point, N.Y., on May 13, 2010. Corma died April 29 in Afghanistan. (AP)

It’s Memorial Day. A day to honor those who have answered their country’s call, have fought and fallen.

Today will mean very personal memories and fresh grief in a country with two ongoing wars. So how do the those who are grieving — how do we all – understand the meaning of war and sacrifice?

From the time of Homer to right now, great and humble poets have tried to make sense of war – or convey its senselessness.

War dismembers. War poetry remembers. And instructs us on what war is, and is not.

This hour, On Point: On Memorial Day – war poetry, from ancient Greece to straight from Iraq, right now. We bring you a special, pre-taped broadcast.


James Winn, professor of English at Boston University and author of “The Poetry of War.”

Brian Turner, poet and war veteran. He was an infantry team leader in Iraq with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, and served in Bosnia-Herzegovina prior. He’s author of “Here, Bullet” and “Phantom Noise.”

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst and senior editor at The Atlantic.


A big thanks to our Facebook community, which generously contributed suggestions in advance of the taping of this show. You can see the long comment thread on the subject of war and poetry.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • joshua

    No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

    James Madison

    Perhaps it is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad.

    James Madison

    A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce, or a tragedy, or perhaps both.

    James Madison

    A well-instructed people alone can be permanently a free people.

    James Madison

    By rendering the labor of one, the property of the other, they cherish pride, luxury, and vanity on one side; on the other, vice and servility, or hatred and revolt.

    James Madison

    Each generation should be made to bear the burden of its own wars, instead of carrying them on, at the expense of other generations.

    James Madison

    If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.

    James Madison

    It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad.

    James Madison

    Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.

    James Madison

    The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.
    James Madison

    Learned Institutions ought to be favorite objects with every free people. They throw that light over the public mind which is the best security against crafty and dangerous encroachments on the public liberty.

    James Madison

    The executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war.
    James Madison

    Of all the enemies of public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.
    James Madison

    Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise, every expanded prospect.
    James Madison

    The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home.
    James Madison

    To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea.
    James Madison

    War contains so much folly, as well as wickedness, that much is to be hoped from the progress of reason.
    James Madison

  • joshua


    Congress nor the president have our best interests at heart. The “interests of the United State” is not the, it is the 2% of the corporate-aristocracy that we we bleed for, that we are sentenced to die for in the name of health-insurance, and mercantile war.

  • joshua

    that should read: The “interests of the US” is not the interests of the people…

  • joshua

    Freedom is NOT won by soldiers! it is won by activists, protesters, active citizens, poets, novelists (not propaganda journalists), community radio, and non-profit journalism…

    Nobody in foreign lands is trying to take your freedom. But the corporations and the government certainly are and have…a true patriot resists fighting and killing in foreign wars. A true patriot resists the fascist government now in power, Democrat or Republican—it is fascist.

  • joshua

    The best way to remember the fallen is to stop fighting for these fascists…and stand up against American tyranny at home and abroad.

  • Brett

    And maybe switching to decaf in the morning might be in order, as well…eh?

  • aj

    Here is a portion of text from
    Alexander Cockburn’s weekly column over at Counterpunch.org, on this Memorial Day weekend.
    (I think its fitting in the wake of last nights assault and murder (atleast 10 human beings) of the Free Gaza activists)

    Can this nation’s major newspapers and television networks sedulously refuse to discuss assertions that US servicemen were abandoned by their government? The answer is yes. An example: On October 22, 2003 the Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty on June 8, 1967, resulting in the deaths of 34 US crew members and the wounding of 173, issued its report on Capitol Hill. Among its findings:

    “There is compelling evidence that Israel’s attack was a deliberate attempt to destroy an American ship and kill her entire crew; evidence of such intent is supported by statements from Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Undersecretary of State George Ball, former CIA director Richard Helms, former NSA directors Lieutenant General William Odom, USA (Ret), Admiral Bobby Ray Inman, USN (Ret).” The crew, the report said, were “abandoned by their own government… fearing conflict with Israel, the White House deliberately prevented the US Navy from coming to the defense of USS Liberty… due to the influence of Israel’s powerful supporters in the United States, the White House deliberately covered up the facts of this attack from the American people… there has been an official cover-up without precedent in American naval history.”

    Signing these emphatic conclusions were some of America’s best known military men: Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Gen Raymond G. Davis, former assistant commandant of the Marine Corps; Rear Admiral Merlin Staring, former Judge Advocate General of the Navy, and Ambassador James Akins (Ret), former United States Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. And how were these categorical conclusions dealt with in the press? Reviewing the record four years later, Alison Weir, executive director of If Americans Knew, reported here on the CounterPunch website that a review of the hundreds of newspapers indexed by Lexis-Nexis “does not turn up a single US newspaper that mentioned this commission, a single US television station, a single US radio station, a single US magazine. “While it was mentioned in an Associated Press report focusing on one of the commission’s most dramatic revelations, Lexis reveals only a sprinkling of news media printed information from this AP report, and those few that did failed to mention this commission itself, its extremely star-studded composition, and the entirety of its findings.”

    And who, in the case of the Liberty, conducted the initial, cursory Navy Court of Inquiry in the immediate aftermath of the attack? None other than Admiral John S. McCain, father of Arizona’s senior US senator, preparing the hasty cover-up under the supervision of Johnson’s White House and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara.

    Millions of words have been expended down the decades on the matter of the press’s role in “cover-ups.” Every cover-up has its own specific mix – whether it be fear of the Israel lobby, as with the saga of the Liberty; or direct pressure from a government agency, as when the CIA persuaded Arthur Hays Sulzberger of the New York Times to suppress Sydney Gruson’s reports of the Agency’s role in the 1953 Guatemalan coup overthrowing President Arbenz; or the competitive rivalries that prompted the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and New York Times to launch a collective onslaught on the San Jose Mercury News for Gary Webb’s “Dark Alliance” series in 1996, charging CIA complicity in the importing of cocaine into the US. The blend varies from case to case but there are consistent features, starting with the extreme unease with which the corporate press approaches a story which casting grave discredit on the government of the United States.

  • aj

    UPDATE: al Jazeera is reporting up to 19 murdered mostly Turk blockade runners

  • Brett

    Thanks, aj, that is an interesting excerpted piece. And, while I was joking a little with young Joshua, there, the man does have some points which can not be denied. But I was thinking this On Point show today, as well as Memorial Day itself, is more of a remembrance of men and women who are now dead from war.

    Maybe because of my own family members from WW II, Korea and Vietnam who were NCO’s, and were killed, I am thinking of the little guy, the young man who in earnest conjured up a little bravery to do something he felt was for the good of others (whether that in hindsight may be misguided or valorous).

  • aj

    Indeed, a moment of silence for the little guy, the young man (or woman) K.I.A. …

    … ” Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
    Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

    But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

  • aj

    -Abraham Lincoln.

  • jeffe

    Some people have no shame.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Nasli, thank you for your service. Young people sent to war are not responsible for the reasons, and none of them are “fools.” Even the oldest and most educated leaders might at some point feel the folly behind some of the maneuvers. I think of Colin Powell telling the United Nations and everyone else about the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq — which turned out to be Saddam Hussein’s attempt to persuade everyone he DID have such weapons. As citizens, to the extent we can understand and make ourselves heard, we need to forge ahead to prevent unnecessary losses.
    About the poetry of war: I studied the Iliad twice, in junior high school and high school, and if anyone had ever said it with the specific emphasis on the ‘ad at the end of Iliad, I would have understood the title relates to Ilium, which is Troy, which sits where Istanbul/Constantinople is, more or less. As it was, we read that poem, translated, with a tin ear, and never heard the meaning of the title. We didn’t expect any meaning in it, actually. We didn’t know words can carry their own freight.
    Now I’m wondering how the word Ilium (now a body part) came to be known as Troy. To me, poetry means posing those questions: what does that word (war-d, I’m kidding) really mean. War, the panel is saying, also has layers of meaning, huge destruction, and huge commitment.

  • Ellen DIbble

    So habib is Arabic for love. I have Arabic language learning tools, but no use for even one word of it. Yay, rah, Al Jazeera in Americah.

  • Craig

    @nasli, You are not a fool, you are a victim of circumstance. Though I have no way to truly understand what you’ve been through, my sympathies go with you. War has blackened all of our souls. None of us are innocent, except (ironically) many of those who were tasked with fighting it. I hope you can recover your life.

  • Ellen Dibble

    With the exception of Halliburton and certain other parts of the military/industrial complex, the current wars will surely seem like wars upon ourselves when we actually start paying for them, generations down the line or whatever.
    And the military families of course are paying now. We can save lives, but the PTSD, the lost limbs, the bomb-shaken brains — the war touches us, deeply, even without taxing gas and so on.

  • http://www.nounwoundedsoldiers.com Rebecca Abbott

    Thanks for exploring this moving and important topic. One comment though: Jack Beatty said something to the effect that there was no evidence that Vietnam War soldiers were not spat upon when they returned. Having worked with a number of Vietnam vets, most suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, I cannot stress enough how deeply they were shamed by average Americans when they returned, including being spat upon. Even veterans of World War II,men of their fathers’ generation, would not welcome them to their VFW halls and other veterans’ organiztions. Please, Jack Beatty, learn more from Vietnam veterans about their experiences both in country and upon their return. It’s a terrible insult to them and the memory of their lost comrades on this Memorial Day.

  • http://www.mikeyantachka.com Mike Yantachka

    In March of 2003, as the U.S. was preparing to invade Iraq, I wrote this poem because I felt we were making a mistake. Now I’m sure we did. However, I still respect those men and women who sacrificed careers, family and, ultimately, their lives to serve our country.

    Body Bags
    by Mike Yantachka Copyright 3/21/2003

    So, the war has begun, and
    It’s time to rally ’round the flag.
    That’ll last a while as
    The troops in their armor swiftly progress.
    Then some go home in a body bag.

    Flush with victories, they’ll reach Baghdad,
    Where Saddam’s Guard elite will attempt the redress
    Of early defeats, whether hopeful or hopeless.
    Then we’re in the streets, houses with machine-gun nests,
    Civilian shields of mortal flesh defying, dying in hopelessness.
    And more go home in a body bag.

    Babies, women we don’t want to kill,
    But because we and they are there, we must, we will.
    Yard by yard, street by street, not permitting our defeat,
    Taking cover, surmounting the cruise missile rubble,
    We try to move forward little by little.
    But many go back in a body bag.

    Now where are we going, what corner to take?
    Where is the enemy HQ, for God’s sake?
    Who will surrender to end this damned mess?
    And stop this insane game of death-dealing chess?
    And hundreds go home in a body bag.

    At last we’ll have won, we’ll have killed the last one,
    Liberated them finally from under the gun.
    Count them. How many? Both their dead and ours
    Are sorted and listed for hours and hours,
    And theirs will stay there to be buried in sand
    And ours will go home in their own body bags.

  • http://shulmandesign.net Alan Shulman

    Could we not find equal heroism and dedication to a cause beyond ourselves in the unselfish works of those who rescue, for instance, the hurricane victim as opposed to those we celebrate in war the origins of which we can not ever understand?

  • Steve Klevickis

    Tom’s guest just gave an erroneous casualty figure for the Battle of Antietam of around 40,000 killed. Total casualties were around 23,000, of which about 3500 were killed.

  • Craig

    Don’t cha know that the NYT is a lefty rag and Fox is “fair and balanced”? Al Jazeera? Sounds kind of like Al Qaeda, they must be terrorists! We Real Americans have no need for accurate information about world events. Don’t bother to think, the media tells us how we should see things.

  • Paul Spirn

    It is offensive to broadly characterize all soldiers as fighting for our freedom–sometimes yes, often not. I do indeed feel overwhelming gratitude for those who stepped forward believing they were serving our nation in its best and admirable interest. Unfortunately, in generation after generation our young have been misled. When will we as a society have the maturity and the honesty to acknowledge that? And after facing that, we can move on to put militarism in its proper place–the last resort to genuine threats that cannot be countered any other way.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Rebecca, I am wondering about your statement, based you say on your own experience: “Even veterans of World War II,men of their fathers’ generation, would not welcome them to their VFW halls and other veterans’ organiztions.”
    I graduated from college in 1969, and to my view, because of the draft, and because my generation was struggling hard to stop the Vietnam campaign, because young men basically lost their connection to their families of origin, the Greatest Generation that had fought World War II, because of this huge, emotionally devastating situation on the home front, with people heading for Canada, and wishing all Americans would do the same — this probably created a different view of the veteran. We had no homecomings in my town. We were defeated, actually. No tickertape flowing.
    But it seems to me the WWII veterans have been mostly unambivalent in their respect for Vietnam vets. And the rift between the war resisters, the draft avoiders, and those who followed that call — that rift persists.
    Had there been no draft, the main mode of resistance would not have been shunning a certain sort of public commitment, to be drafted, to serve. Nowadays, people may join the service for financial reasons — what other jobs are there — but mostly they have patriotism involved. About 1973, it was seen as more patriotic to AVOID service, not everywhere, but some places.

  • Webb Nichols

    The terrible tragedy of War is that the soldier is a victim if not tyrannized by his better instincts- patriotism, loyalty, courage, justice and victim if not tyrannized by their leaders who sent them into a senseless conflict.

  • Nancy Rhodes

    best show on war I have ever heard. Thanks

  • Deanna Larson

    A thoughtful program about a topic I didn’t know I was interested in — war poetry. The conversation was moving and thought-provoking and handled with great respect on this Memorial Day. Thank you Tom and producers for another great segment.

  • jeffe

    I agree. I want to see al Jazeera on my TV.

    You cannot get al Jazeera unless you live in a few small border towns in northern Vermont.

    Can onpoint explore this subject and make a program out of it.
    Posted by jeffe, on May 31st, 2010 at 10:28 AM

    The person who wrote this is a coward. I don’t care one way or the other about al Jazeera as I don’t have cable.

    Try posting with your own nae please, your obnoxious.

  • Ellen Dibble

    nasli, I want to know too, and if you can find a specific group to help you, that would be good. The loneliness of being in pain and “different” is a great burden, an isolating burden. Much of human togetherness depends on people having physical resilience, shared appetites and strengths. Be strong.
    But it seems to me a large part of the country is beginning to zero in on some of the “reasons,” and we may be doomed as a nation if we cannot learn the particular lessons involved.

  • jeffe


  • Ellen Dibble

    Ambush by blog, jeffe. Blambush.

  • patsy mclaughlin

    While listening to Brian Turner’s poetry, I was standing on a ladder painting. When he read his line,
    “it should break your heart to kill.” I stopped as tears began to flow, and like a primal scream deep within me, a howl of pain and dispair came out of me and I could not stop my weeping.
    It is true.

  • Steve T

    Forward we go
    with our anger and hatred
    Forward we go
    we the unwilling led by zealot peers
    Forward we go
    to kill or be killed
    Forward we go
    no time for the dead no rest for the weary
    Forward we go
    into the very depths of hell
    Forward we go

    Until the last
    a look back at what has past
    Oh my God what have I done.

  • jeffe

    Wilfred Owen (British solder WW1) (1893-1918)
    “Anthem for a Doomed Youth”

    What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
    –Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
    Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
    Can patter out their hasty orisons.
    No mockeries for them from prayers or bells,
    Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,-
    The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
    And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

    What candles may be held to speed them all?
    Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
    Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
    The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
    Their flowers the tenderness of silent minds,
    And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

  • Brett

    I was reminded of an old Folk song I know but haven’t played in a few years; it was mentioned toward the end of the broadcast, “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda.” In the song a young, Australian man who loves to waltz to the original Folk song with his own “Matilda” is sent to fight the Turks in 1915 and returns after a bloody battle at Suvla Bay, after having his legs blown off… He awakens in his hospital bed…”for no more I’ll go waltzing Matilda, all around the green bush far and free; for to hunt, tent and pegs, a man needs both legs, no more Waltzing Matilda for me.” Later in the song he views a war memorial parade pass before him; he thinks about the “the tired, old heroes from a forgotten war,” and the young people asking, “what were they fighting for?” And he asks himself “the same question.”

    At the end of the song, a chorus of the original Folk song waltz is heard from a ghostly voice:

    “Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
    Who’ll come-a Waltzing, Matilda, with me?
    And their ghosts may be heard, as they march by the billabong
    Who’ll come a waltzing, Matilda, with me?”

  • Brett

    Throughout history, the poets know, and have known, and know only second to what the soldier knows first hand.

  • SanFran

    I voted for obama because he said he would pull out of Iraq, Afghanistan and close Gitmo. He has done none of these things and has expanded the war in Afghanistan.

  • jm

    In the country of mens’ souls
    There is a Ganges;
    And beneath his fatal clouds
    Man knows when he is brave
    He is born free,
    But becomes too soon afraid.
    Stricken and sore with his brambles,
    Impatient of his labors
    And unfaithful to his Gods
    He shrieks too much;
    That he would not weep
    He flails
    That he would not see,
    Man walks his wary, motley,
    Through the loam and spirit shadings
    To the next hill, and the next well,
    Wanting ever to palm and touch,
    To rub and hold and pinch,
    To physically collect;
    So chained he courts a wonder
    And a birthing
    And in the country of mens’ souls
    There is a Ganges.

    David X. Sharpe

  • Ellen Dibble

    Ashley, I think all we can do for Nashli, and others who have fought or may in future fight for this country, is to keep the reasons for war clear in our national consciousness. Nashli, wanting accountability, wanting to understand why, has definite motivation to participate in keeping this clear. During the Cold War, the fear of nuclear Armageddon seemed to excuse a lot of Foggy Bottom sorts of deceptions, and we supported non-democracies using a domino theory, that we support such and such a dictator, who keeps that country under our aegis, rather than the Soviets’. We still have lots of foggy international issues, and I am not alone in being one of those from the Vietnam era who learned skepticism. We learned that Eisenhower left office warning us of the military/industrial complex. It’s like a mammoth tiger that needs to be fed. But it also can attack. Remember the Shock and Awe campaign opening our attack on Baghdad? Fireworks. With real weapons.
    For once, we thought we were “liberating” an oppressed people, rather than surreptitiously maybe assisting in letting them be oppressed in order to wall in the aggressive Soviet Union, that had gobbled up Eastern Europe in a blink after World War II. Just for starters.
    Why Iraq? Well, sanctions were not “working,” and were hurting the citizens while still enriching the brutal leadership. We need oil, oil pipeline routes, bases in a strategic part of the world. I don’t need a newspaper to see that. Iraq had invaded Kuwait, Iraq had fought Iran. (Who started that?) Maybe Israel feeds into this somehow, in that as an ally they are not always what one might want. I don’t know.
    Mainly, I think the president saw a country that felt vulnerable way, way out of proportion to what might be called an attack by piracy, by a sort of mafia, not a nation but sundry vagrants inspired by an ideology. It’s as if the Soviet Union had no walls but was loosed like a batch of hornets upon the earth. As if to rub that in, we had the antrax envelopes mailed to network news, to senate offices. A president wanted would need to be seen to take action. And there was an action that would be extremely profitable to oil interests and to Halliburton, both of which were interests near to the pocketbooks of the president and vice president.
    America had not yet learned the extent to which money was running the country as if we all were the Titanic, hell-bent for profit, not necessarily with a very long view. Global warming? Toss it.
    So we can profitably (for some) find out the Evil Empires that are “sheltering” the miscreants (to be fair, the United States is sheltering its fair share by now, call it treason or madness, but we do). And undermine those regimes (in Iraq, overthrow Saddam Hussein; yes, sir). Well, those regimes mostly actually have already been undermined in many instances. Think of Afghanistan. Think of Somalia. Think of Yemen. Rather than undermine them, spend way more money than we actually have upon building them up.
    Are you confused yet?
    Elect a president who says he’ll pull us out of Iraq, close down GITMO, finish the job in AfPak. Ask the Secretary of State, with her feet sunk in past administrations, she being the antithesis of “innocence,” what is actually going on. Indeed.
    Me, I’d join the Department of State before the Navy or Marines. I think there is a new world order ready to emerge, one that will depend less on military might, less on One Nation lording it over everyone else. Conflict will not be a matter of who has most bombs, best soldiers. It will be best science, best articulation, best management of the citizenry (by the citizenry, and for the citizenry…).
    We can all try to envision that, then try to get there.
    No one posted yet, “Oh, Captain, my captain, fallen, cold and dead” (sob, sob, sob).

  • Ellen Dibble

    Shorthand for military/industrial complex: Use it or lose it.

  • Jean Boardman

    I was standing making waffles for my holiday guests while looking out my kitchen window this morning and feeling awe for the beauty of the the day, when the ever present NPR voices began talking of memorial day and poetry in the time of war. Brian Turner (war veteran inIraq and Bosnia) read his poem “here, Bullet” and later said he wrote that when in the service and carried it in his vest pocket and thought that it would be his last conversation with his buddy, who worked in the military morgue, if every his friend had to dress his remains. It made me take a deep breath. I had not thought for many years about the times I stood in my brownie scout uniform and later holding my highs school band glockenspiel, playing the top notes in the Star Spangled Banner with tears in my eyes for my neighbor friends whose Dad was listed in our small town ” lost in war roster” read out on memorial day. I have been so lucky not to have shared such a loss. Thanks for the breadth of thoughts and emotions that were drawn through the works shared in this morning’s “On Point” hour.

  • informed American

    Obama is a disgrace to our country and to all of our veterans.

  • Barry

    I can still remember when Cheney who had five deferments delivered the wreath at the unknown soldier. I was offended and found it strange I didn’t here more about it

  • http://none Jim Hirschman MD

    Are you trying to turn us into a nation of Wimps ?

    Give your message to the extreme right wing Muslims,
    maybe you cabn dissuade them to give up violence.
    “Take away the joy of stoneing !”

    Are you reluctant to quote the “Charge of the LIght Brigade ?”

    Jim H.
    If you speak of dualism, please keep it equally dual.

  • http://for.parents@juno.com Glenna Auxier

    In 1967 when my husband came home from viet Nam Delta Airlines would not let me have an extra day off to fly to California to meet him. They would not even let me switch days with another person at the airport to allow me enough time off to meet him. I had a free pass but they said it was not necessary and it certainly didn’t qualify as an emergency. No one ever spit on him as far as I know but that felt very hurtful and it felt very disrespectful. I have always liked the poem by Kilping called Tommy Atkins. It says it all in the first verse.

    I went into a public-’ouse to get a pint o’ beer,
    The publican ‘e up an’ sez, “We serve no red-coats here.”
    The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
    I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:
    O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, go away”;
    But it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play,
    The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
    O it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play.

  • Michael Drew

    To nancy Rhodes and On Point:

    Nancy, On Point has a six-year(-plus?) record of devastatingly powerful Memorial Day programs. May I recommend On Point start a special page with links to all the programs it has done to pay due attention to the needs and sacrifices of those fighting our current and past wars? Perhaps we can consecrate the page in honor of the Unknown Soldier and commenter joshua… (But seriously, producers, that’s a real suggestion.) This one is excellent, but some others have been far more powerful.

  • andrea valeria

    I am looking for that extremely moving poet by a Iranian?….it should turn your heart to kill him, i think you read.
    Please help me find it. If it is in your book, I just bought it, but do tell me.
    thank you for a wonderful program, even though the thought of war is too great to bare.

  • joshua

    Dibble–many young people–especially today–go to war with killing in the mind, obsessed with playing GI-Joe and exploding things. I know, I was in the service. I’ve looked into the abyss.

    You want to believe they are all so naive. they are not. Heroes, they are not. Mistaken, yes.

    people like you, this show, and so many others want to romanticize war–and so your children march off to die for that romantic evil cause conjured into something noble.

    The best way to honor the fallen is to stop romanticizing their death and end the continuous warfare–the myth of “terror” cooked up by our honorable leaders to frighten us all into endless war and to destroy our constitutional rights.

    Colin Powell was a co-conspirator and a complete absurd liar–holding up his empty vial of anthrax to frighten the world. These people belong in prison for life–a deep dark prison.

  • joshua

    its disgusting that that only jobs in America for poor people are to become honorable killers as soldiers.

    I am frightened of my government. I am afraid as noble Americans-the anti-war Americans unravel the evil truth and expose the government and corporations of their obscene lies–they will manufacture anther false flag terror event much worse than they did on 911–so that Americans conditioned Americans will gnash their teeth and seethe and bay for blood and the continuous war on liberty will continue forever.

  • joshua

    “I was joking a little with young Joshua…”

    1. How can he know how old I am? Age is not always a factor in wisdom. Most elderly people I know are completely ignorant and hate-filled screaming patriotism and whites only.

    2. Pay close attention to ‘Brett’s’ rhetoric meant to suggest the young are naive and idealistic (which i gues is supposed to be bad) and that the young can’t possibly know what is really going on and if they did they would not challenge authority and just take thier soma.
    yet, it is the young who are expected to die in war and are asked to kill for the elderly. And it is the young who enlist, volunteer, and the young who are drafted–against their will.

    Age is relative. You don’t me. And if you do–you are spying on me against my constitutional rights–oh, wait, sorry–those have been taken away in the face of tyranny and war and security–homeland.

    Its time the old stand aside and listen carefully to the young (but only the educated and wizened young).

  • Brett

    No, joshua, it’s just that you see everything in very black and white terms. There’s no nuance, no gray area in the way you view the world.

    You also seem just a tad more paranoid than you need be for your age. Hehehe! Or is that HA!? In those moments when you have those paranoid pangs just remember that you are not significant enough for people to spy on you! Oh, and the voices inside your head are simply your own consciousness, your own internal dialogue. If you don’t like what they say, ignore them. ;-)

    When you get older, you’ll develop a sense of humor about yourself a little more. I gave you your points in a way, something you are overlooking. I don’t disagree with your concerns, I just think that you see them as all grand conspiracies and in very lopsided, overly dramatic terms, described as if people in government are all wholly evil, or that people in general are either wholly evil or wholly righteous. Most of what we see in government is people being incompetent more so than masterminding some elaborate global plan involving a world of conspirators. Oh, some try, some even have some success at their schemes!

    You might very well lose some of your pessimism as you age and find some internal peace, if you temper your views and realize you are, after all, only a very small person in a very large world.

    I also would urge you to respect your elders a little more. The mere fact that you think the elderly you come in contact with are all “completely ignorant” indicates a lack of maturity on your part.

    Now, stay off my lawn, and go get a hair cut and a job!!!

  • joshua

    How do you know how old I am Brett? Uh, make YOU so right. And you dont know me–ATAll. Im not a pessimist. if I were I wouldn’t take action. You on the other hand are happy to accept the status Quo. Conspiracy is defined as two or more people planning something toward some aim, usually in secret. That makes most things in gov. a conspiracy. And You would be a fool to think there are none. Gong to war is not incompetence–its very well planned and very much part of our economy and when that economy is threatened those who stand to lose from change do anything to maintain status quo–including manufacture fear and terror and terrorist events. if you dont have a market, create one. Why do you think they keep changing the tones and shape of your cell phone? Everyone has a got a cell phone–how do they keep making money–they make up some new fandangled meaningless feature and sell you that and you the narcotic capitlist go out and buy it without thinking.

    I dont see everything in black and white–you do–that’s why yu are so willing to accept the romance of war and the status quo–the status quo is black and white–simple for simple people.

    I dont hav elong hair. And if i did–so what? NOw you criticise hippies–which is just people who practiced democracy and won many civil rights and spoke out against war. What are oyu saying? Black people should not have the vote? Women should stay at home? War is good? I’m sorry but if you want to call me a tree-hugger, or a hippie or beatnik–fine–if you need to lable people in black and white, than please do so. I thank you for the compliment. I just think your world view is wholly wrong. You are the cause of much of world’s ills.

    I do respect my elders, especially those who deserve it. But if you dont–why should I? Respect is earned.

    Soldiers dont deserve respect unless they’ve earned it. The honorable soldiers speak of what they’ve seen and speak out and stand up against war, especially these acts of terror and imperialism crimes against humanity perpetrated by the American government and the supporters of the troops.

    If you are made to believe absurdities, you will commit atrocities.

    You still don’t know how old I am. When you assume things, you make an ass out of u, not me.

    Instead of a lawn, you should grow a garden, but I know how fascist’s like plots of useless land destructive to the environment, greedy for that space that you want exclude the other from.

    And I have a wonderful sense of humor. I just dont see anything funny about killing and war. The fact that you do–is the reason America is so twisted.

    The fact that you see a need to attack me ad hominum, and argue about something so wicked and destructive as war, instead of accepting the truth, and helping to make real progressive changes towards humanity shows how twisted your thought and the American ethos really is. Those who seek to do good are almost always labeled with derogatory names, ridiculed, diminished in some way. That’s the real shame. You reduce something so vile, so much in need of honest dialogue into verbal attacks and trying to paint your opposition as something less than worthy of our attention. maybe you should be on FOx news. Like the Teabaggers you want to shut down any real debate, and wave your flag of conformity. That’s the wave of fascism.

    I’m sorry I like trees that give us air and beauty. I’m sorry I like human beings. I’m sorry I like equality despise greedy self-righteousness. I’m sorry I do like reason. I’m sorry i do like altruism. I’m sorry I do try to be kind and understanding–I know that is so Hippi-ish of me. But it is also Christian–or supposed to be–and I am not a Christian, nor I am religious. It’s too bad Christians are such Hippocrates.

    DOnt support the troops. Support democracy.

  • joshua

    And where in anything I have said does it suggest a conspiracy–it doesn’t. But you and people like you–most Americans and Fox news are quick to label anyone who criticism the government and war as a conspiracy theorist. But isn’t that what democracy is about–questioning, judging, critical thought, knowledge, being well-informed? Democracy is not obedience. democracy is not conformity. Most Americans don’t even know what democracy is and yet lord over the world as if they are something special because they have democracy and so-called freedom. I don’t think you have either. You don’t even have the foggiest idea of what they are…America looks more like Nazi Germany in its thinking and understanding of the world than it does an enlightened democracy like Athens or even Rome.

    If we have any freedom its not because of soldiers and veterans–its becaus eof activists, writers, poets, critical thinkers, and protesters–especially those who stood up against war, corporations, and governemnt.

    When will we thank them? When is the memorial day for them. Nobody wants to think seriously about that, because that would destroy the war-economy–to be truly educated and informed and critical. that’s what your government is truly afraid of–an enlightened citizenry.

    That’s why we have memorial day and statues-to romanticize war so that you keep thinking its so very honorable and the enemy is always at the gates–beware!

    There’s nothing funny about it. You didn’t grow enlightened with age–you grew apathetic and lazy and tired and started lying to yourself.

  • Brett

    You’ve got a vivid imagination, and it borders on hysteria…Well, I hope you are just making this up as you go along, at least. Oh, and I WAS a hippie, long before you were born, still am. I am more directly involved in environmental issues, political events and social causes in my community than most people my age. I don’t know how old you are; if I had to guess, though, I’d say you are either way under 35 or are simply very immature. You rant on blogs as a kind of armchair activism. And, you don’t even recognize a joke! Perhaps when you get older or develop more maturity, you’ll gain some self awareness…and have more real confidence in yourself, and maybe a little faith and insight into others. I can hope.

  • Laurie Olson

    Just a minor correction. The Old Guard aka The President’s Own is the 3rd Infantry, not the 2nd, as announced on the program about Memorial Day. They are in charge of guarding the Tomb of the Unknowns, holding the funerals at Arlington National Cemetery, and other ceremonial duties at the cemetery and the White House. They do an amazing job, and they should be properly recognized.

Sep 2, 2014
U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., talks with Mark Wilson, event political speaker chairperson, with his wife Elain Chao, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, at the annual Fancy Farm Picnic in Fancy Farm, Ky., Saturday, August 4, 2012. (AP)

Nine weeks counting now to the midterm elections. We’ll look at the key races and the stakes.

Sep 2, 2014
Confederate spymaster Rose O'Neal Greenhow, pictured with her daughter "Little" Rose in Washington, D.C.'s Old Capitol Prison in 1862. (Wikimedia / Creative Commons)

True stories of daring women during the Civil War. Best-selling author Karen Abbott shares their exploits in a new book: “Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy.”

Sep 1, 2014
Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (95) recovers a fumble by Carolina Panthers quarterback Derek Anderson (3) in the second quarter of the NFL preseason football game on Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 in Pittsburgh. (AP)

One outspoken fan’s reluctant manifesto against football, and the big push to reform the game.

Sep 1, 2014
This Friday, Aug. 22, 2014 photo shows a mural in in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago dedicated to the history of the Pullman railcar company and the significance for its place in revolutionizing the railroad industry and its contributions to the African-American labor movement. (AP)

On Labor Day, we’ll check in on the American labor force, with labor activist Van Jones, and more.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: August 29, 2014
Friday, Aug 29, 2014

On hypothetical questions, Beyoncé and the unending flow of social media.

More »
Drew Bledsoe Is Scoring Touchdowns (In The Vineyards)
Thursday, Aug 28, 2014

Football great — and vineyard owner — Drew Bledsoe talks wine, onions and the weird way they intersect sometimes in Walla Walla, Washington.

More »
Poutine Whoppers? Why Burger King Is Bailing Out For Canada
Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014

Why is Burger King buying a Canadian coffee and doughnut chain? (We’ll give you a hint: tax rates).

More »
1 Comment