Sunday, November 11, 2007

Honoring those who served

The Manchester Union Leader pays a tribute to our veterans that is so poignant and complete that it would be awkward for me to comment afterwards.

I’ll just say here before posting it that, like most of you, I’m deeply grateful to our veterans living and dead, and to their families who sacrifice with them:

Veterans Day will be officially observed tomorrow, quite probably with too many shopping sales and too few people pausing to thank a veteran of our armed forces or to just stop and reflect for a minute on what life would be like without our veterans -- past, present and future.

The late Paul Scott Mowrer, who ended his days in Chocorua as poet laureate of New Hampshire, prayed in the following poem that the cause for which America sends her youth to serve and die be just; that it "stay till end of time the oppressor's rod."
Mowrer, editor of the Chicago Daily News and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, was writing in the aftermath of the First World War, whose end was commemorated by the first Veterans Day, then known as Armistice Day. Alas, the "oppressor's rod" has yet to be permanently stayed.

We owe it to our veterans, then and now, not only that our cause always be just but that we treat well and honorably those who serve and sacrifice.

By Paul Scott Mowrer

Let but the cause seem beautiful, dear God,
If we must die. Make us believe, in truth,
For all mankind we thus forswear our youth,
To stay till end of time the oppressor's rod;
That but for us, harsh power would ride rough-shod
Through freedom's delicate gardens, and the tooth
Of hatred rend our people without ruth;
So might we sleep contented, under the sod.
For else, who knows what gladness here on earth
Was destined us, what nobly high employ?
Oh, hard it is that youth should cease to be!
For now came love, with a great glad rebirth
To company our way, and now came joy!
Not death we fear, but death's futility.