By Bill Matthews
The children visit the burying place
It held no fear, but awe.
They came on spring and summer days
To run and jump and wonder.
Some stones displayed a flag
Reminding of today’s.
They wondered at the meaning
Of these stone carved arrays.
Look they are the soldiers here
One boy proclaimed proudly.
And sailors, marines and airmen too
He went on shouting loudly.
I wonder what they talk about
The children asked each other.
About the battles they have fought?
About the times of strife they suffered?
No! Battles are for generals
Not lonely single soldiers.
No strategy! No tactics grand
Would be remembered here.
About the enemy then?
And all his evil mentions.
No! The enemy’s remembered still
By his spring and summer children.
Perhaps about the sacrifice?
The issues and their lasting cost?
No! Historians write, debate and ponder
Endlessly the reasons men are lost.
OK how ‘bout the glory felt
The swelling pride of daring deeds.
No! The politicians only sanitize
By covering the battlefield with such seeds.
The game grows weary
The children move on to another question.
But not before an old man asks
To enter their discussion.
You kids are good to play in here.
You make the very best company.
These men remember many things
But not the things you guessed.
They remember friends and family
Long left far behind.
They recall comrades and classmates
From time to precious time.
They talk about the boys they knew
And girls both young and old.
They talk about their sweethearts
Some they married, it be told.
They talk about their enemies
But not in disgust or wrath
They were but boys and men themselves
With war placed in their path.
They oft discourse about the friends
They served beside and died
They shared a meal, a smoke, a glance
They shared a taut goodbye.
They talk about the children
Who run and jump and play
The spring and summer children.
On spring and summer days.