It doesn’t happen alone

Wally Bowen is absolutely correct about the poem planned for the Veterans Memorial [“The Writing on the Wall,” Nov. 7], which wrongly attributes our freedoms of speech, the press, religion, assembly and voting entirely to the military.

The words to the poem, “It is the Veteran,” are not attributed to any author and have already been changed, as pointed out in [your article]. I suggest a further revision that would be much more accurate and positive and to which, I think, almost everyone could agree. Instead of “It is the VETERAN, not the preacher, who has given us freedom of religion” etc., I would substitute “as well as” for “not” and “who has fought for” rather than “who has given us.” Thus, the poem would read as follows:

It is the Veteran
It is the VETERAN, as well as the preacher,
who has fought for freedom or religion.
It is the VETERAN, as well as the reporter,
who has fought for freedom of the press.
It is the VETERAN, as well as the poet,
who has fought for freedom of speech.
It is the VETERAN, as well as the campus organizer,
who has fought for freedom to assemble.
It is the VETERAN, as well as the politician,
who has fought for the right to vote.
It is the VETERAN
who salutes the flag
who serves under the flag
whose coffin is draped by the flag.
Thank you Veterans!

— Fred Flaxman


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2 thoughts on “It doesn’t happen alone

  1. ron ogle

    I have colleted some alternate lines for this proposed monument for those who served and who would be better served by enhanced Veterans’ Hospitals, rather than by a $400,000. piece of stone.

    Who risked their lives and endured W.W. II and the Korean War only to return unheralded to become wage slaves ? the G. I.s

    Who had the rights they supposedly fought for in foreign lands gradually taken from them by corporations, politicians and lawyers ? veterans

    Who refused to serve and went to prison ? PATRIOTS

    Who’s medical bills will eventually overwhelm the American economy ?
    American Gulf and Iraq War casualties

    [ A higher percentage of wounded soldiers are surviving the current conflicts with grievous injuries, their lives saved by body armor, advances in battlefield medicine and prompt evacuation. A study issued last week estimated that the long-term costs of their medical care and disability benefits could exceed the amount spent so far in prosecuting the war in Iraq. NEW YORK TIMES,Nov. 12, 2007 ]

    Who faces ever longer lines and less services at V.A. Hospitals while millions are spent on Veterans’ Memorials with 3rd rate art ?

    It is also the soldier who has stomped on freedom of the press.
    It is also the soldier who has suppressed freedom of speech.
    It is also the soldier who has shot and killed campus organizers.
    It is also the soldier who has saluted, served and been draped by the
    flag who has made America the most reviled country in the world.
    Let’s not play pretend. Soldiers are instruments of policy. In a
    volunteer army soldiers are complicit in that policy, even if they have
    been coerced by economic hardship to serve.

    [ donovan ] :

    “He’s the universal soldier and he really is to blame. His orders come
    from far away no more. They come from him and you and me, and brothers
    can’t you see? This is not the way to put an end to war.”

    [ mark twain ] :

    O Lord our God,

    Help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells;

    Help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead;

    Help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain;

    Help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire;

    Help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief;

    Help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst,

    Sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter,

    Broken in spirit,

    Worn with travail,

    Imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it –

    For our sakes who adore Thee, Lord,

    Blast their hopes,

    Blight their lives,

    Protract their bitter pilgrimage,

    Make heavy their steps,

    Water their way with their tears,

    Stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet!

    We ask it, in the spirit of love,

    Of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts.


    Ron Ogle, U.S. Navy veteran

  2. DonM

    You left out one.
    It is the VETERAN, as well as the teacher,
    who has allowed you to read and post in English.

    DonM, U.S. Air Force veteran, 30 years

    Thank you for your service even though you may despise it.

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