Saturday, May 25, 2013

Dulce et Decorum Est

Dulce et Decorum Est
by Wilfred Owen  (found at

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 tired, outstripped Five-Nines 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 flound'ring 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.

This poem was written specifically to commemorate service in World War I but I think it captures the reality for all who have served during a time of conflict.  No matter how much we try to sentimentalize and romanticize it and try to make the business of soldiering seem like the adventure of a lifetime... War is ugly.  War is hard work.  War is filled with sights and smells you don't want to experience.  War is often choosing between something bad and something worse.

And we need to keep saying THANK YOU to all the people who made the decision to go and fight our battles!  We need to keep reminding them that they are not forgotten.  And that they are appreciated!

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