copyright Kanzensakura – my father, far left, Paris, 21st birthday

“The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.” – Douglas Macarthur

My father, aged 21, in Paris. He had left the horrors of Omaha Beach behind him. This was his 21st birthday and his two best friends celebrated it with him. I look at his smile, insouciant, not showing the future of night terrors he had until he died. The flag was folded and given to my mother at his funeral; it was inherited by me when she died. When I think of sacrifice, I think of those bodies floating in the bloodied water that he said they walked on to get to get to shore, when they landed on that horrible beach. When I think of memorial, I think of those of us left behind who remember those we love who have traveled on before us.
Memorial Day –
the sound of Taps floating
across the cemetery

21 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Frank J. Tassone
    May 27, 2019 @ 17:02:14

    A lovely tribute, Toni! And an insightful look at the heart of memorial. I had the priviledge to shake the hand of a WWII Veteran today. Our village mayor recognized acknowledged him for his service today, during our village’s annual Memorial Day parade and commemoration. It turns out that his father founded my son’s boy scout troop–95 years ago! 🙂


  2. Glenn Buttkus
    May 27, 2019 @ 17:29:14

    In the 50’s, there were a lot of WWI vets still living. Now our parents, the WWII vets are fading fast. In 10 more years, when I am in my 80’s. we Viet Nam vets will pick up the mantle. Your poem is incredible


  3. robtkistner
    May 27, 2019 @ 18:53:33

    Very moving Toni, and a wonderful haiku.


  4. rothpoetry
    May 27, 2019 @ 20:01:58

    You are right … the horrors of war linger long after the soldiers come home! A nice tribute to your father!


  5. qbit
    May 27, 2019 @ 20:18:06

    Damn. So good.


  6. kim881
    May 28, 2019 @ 02:53:44

    Too many people forget how young soldiers were and still are. It’s almost impossible to believe that a young man could have his 21st birthday in Paris during the Second World War after experiencing horrors of Omaha Beach and still smile. Your haibun is a deeply touching memorial, Toni, especially the ‘sound of Taps floating across the cemetery’.


  7. annell4
    May 28, 2019 @ 09:16:13

    A touching tale. My Son served in Iraq, for 5 1/2 years. He left something there. What they came home with, is unspeakable. xoxoxo


  8. Charmed Chaos
    May 28, 2019 @ 13:22:07

    What an amazing story Toni.


  9. sanaarizvi
    May 28, 2019 @ 13:31:05

    This is such a poignant tribute to your father, Toni.


  10. msjadeli
    May 28, 2019 @ 14:19:24

    Toni, the photo is priceless. So sad he had to experience those things, some of which stayed with him.


  11. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    May 28, 2019 @ 15:28:04

    This is so potent… I think it’s the dead that we need to remember the most… maybe if we talk about those horrors it can make sense… and learn us not to wish for war again.


  12. Sherry Blue Sky
    May 28, 2019 @ 18:00:04

    This poem hits me in the heart, Toni. A lifetime of night terrors after the horrors of war for those young men, the ages of my grandsons, who seem like babies to me.


  13. Beverly Crawford
    May 28, 2019 @ 18:12:32

    Fields of white crosses speak for those who’ve paid the greatest sacrifice, while others carry the horror of war in the attic of their brains. We owe them so much.


  14. Vivian Zems
    May 28, 2019 @ 21:11:46

    A beautiful tribute to your dad. I have the utmost respect for soldiers so I extend my respect to yours too.


  15. Magaly Guerrero
    May 29, 2019 @ 07:39:45

    That description paints such imagery, necessary imagery… The senryu says it so well, Memorial Day and remembrance are (or at least should be) loaded with all the loss and the appreciation of those who remember.


  16. calmkate
    May 29, 2019 @ 16:37:30

    Powerful writing and a sincere tribute to all those who sacrificed health and youth like your father and mine …


  17. lynn__
    Jun 02, 2019 @ 16:36:56

    Thanks for sharing, Toni…we are grateful for his/their sacrifice.


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