Thursday, July 4, 2019

I Pledge©

there was a war
     it's always the case
I decided to go
     wore khaki and saluted
          a reluctant warrior
               carried a gun
     people went crazy shooting an M-1
a past unredeemed
     present dishonored
          thoughtless patriotism
               unshackled prejudice
                   gorging greed
     defend against all such enemies
engage in search for an antidote
     dance with the stranger
         respect the unloved
              challenge the unloving
honor the veterans
     of war
honor the veterans 
     of peace
the pledge
       revised and extended 

     I joined the National Guard my senior year in high school and thus began a life-long oft-time
troublesome relationship with the military and, at one time, I considered becoming a conscientious objector. I served in the Infantry in Korea during the so-called "Forgotten War" and later surrendered my M-1 in return for a Chaplain's Cross and retired from the US Naval Reserve after twenty years of service. During the Vietnam War I was also a full-time Campus  Minister.
     I honor the decision of those who serve in the military to defend democracy and protect the values of this country. I also honor those who conscientiously resist serving in the military to follow a higher calling as they understand it.
     I am disturbed at the too narrowly defined patriotism and jingoist diatribe that is all too often on display in our Independence Day observances. 
     I wrote the above poem this afternoon but it reflects a life time of rethinking. I offer it not to agitate but to encourage reflection.

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