Monday, May 27, 2013

I cannot let today pass unremarked.  To commemorate I want to share a verse I wrote some years back. I wish I could share the picture that inspired it but I do not have rights granted although I did give the artist rights to use my verse if he gave me credit. The picture showed a young woman of times past in a long blue dress. In her hand she held a black-edged letter at leaning against a chair at her side was a cavalry saber and draped over the chair a flag of fewer stars than the one we now salute. . It was beautiful and immeasurably sad. I have to remember the widows and orphans today too along with those who gave all. This verse is copyrighted but may be shared for patriotic purposes with credit to the author. Here is the verse:

The Price of Freedom                 
The price of freedom is always high.
In each generation, some must die.
In each generation, some must mourn,
thus is the price of freedom borne.

The letter ‑‑ Dear Madame, I do regret
to tell you that your beloved met
with his Maker, a fortnight past.
I saw, at least, that death came fast.
Here is his sword, the flag he held high‑‑
In each generation, some must die...
Even ere the letter, somehow she knew
though she wished and hoped it was not true.
The price of freedom is ever dear
Oh, but why must it strike so near?
Each generation the price must pay,
in their own time, in their own way.

The price of freedom is never paid
in full; the mortgage is ere conveyed
to each generation, or else they lose
the right, the privilege to live, to choose.

With Washington, some crossed the Delaware
Before the English knew they were there;
With Jackson, some marched to New Orleans
and looked upon some hellish scenes.
At Gettysburg, brother fought against brother,
fighting the forces that freedom would smother....
They followed Teddy up San Juan Hill,
the Maine remembering, with a will,
and on from there to the trenches of France
where soldiers found not war's romance
but death in blood, in mud, in cold...
forever theirs, to have and hold.

The price of freedom must still be paid
with constant vigilance, bullet and blade.
The price of freedom is never low,
for in each generation, some must go.

The war to end all wars did not;
how soon the lesson they forgot.
Once again, young men and old
went to fight for what can't be sold
but must be bought in blood and tears,
bought over and over, through the years;
aye, over and over, for it is no lie
that the price of freedom is always high.
In desert and jungle and cold north lands,
still straight and tall the soldier stands.
                        Holding aloft the red, white and blue,
paying the price there, for me and for you.
But the price of freedom we all must pay
in our own time and in our own way.

Author's Note:
  This verse was inspired by a painting by western artist Harold I. Hopkinson which portrayed a young woman with a letter in her hand and a cavalry saber on a chair at her side.  My father was in World War II, my husband in Korea, friends went to 'Nam and my son and son-in-law to Desert Storm.  Though I am not ashamed to be a patriot, sometimes I wonder, like the sixties song: when will they ever learn?  But as a historian, I fear human nature will never change enough to end it all.

                                            (c)     GMW, 1995

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