Monday, 27 May 2019

My Memorial Day 2019. Fountains of Water. Fountains of Blood, Mud, and Body Parts

As is usual Zion and I were at Arlington Park, SRQ early this morning.

I paused for five minutes to look at the Fountain.

Above the fountain was a cloud of mist which ascended to the skies.

I purposefully took time to muse and mourn about the tragic meaning of Memorial Day.

I thought of other fountains.  The fountains of blood, mud and body parts:

In the Great War -  not a war for our freedom, but a war of the pride of Kings, a Kaiser and a Tsar.  

Young men blown into the skies without a trace of skin and bone to be buried.  

Other young men blown into death and perhaps buried as no more than a collection of body parts. They were 

French and Algerian (I have viewed Muslim Soldier  WWI gravestones stones near Soissons, France);  



British and British Empire subjects (including New Zealanders, Australians, Canadians and many many(Asian) Indians, 

American etc

Many of the living were a stone's throw from painful death as they were weeping for their mothers. 


In Vietnam ( in the the French and the American colonial wars):

fountains of Vietnamese, French, Australian and American blood, mud and body parts.


When I came to Fitchburg MA in 1976 to be the Priest in Charge (later Rector) of a small congregation I was urged to visit Bob and Bernice B.  as soon as possible.

Their only son Francis B. had perished in Vietnam.

Sadly, the Episcopal Priest at the time of his death had begun a "pastoral" visit to Bob and Bernice with the words "what a waste".

It seemed to Bob and Bernice that this was a political statement against the war, and not a word of  ministry to their grief.

It was my call to understand and share that grief.

When I first saw the Vietnam Wall in Washington DC  

I made it a point to stand in silent prayer as I viewed Francis B's name on the wall (not in the above photo').  Then I called Bob and Bernice to tell them that I had honoured their son's memory.

Adequate enough I suppose, but it did not bring their son back from the dead.


I flew Old Glory outside my home today.  It's a grand old flag. 

But my thoughts focused not on Glory but on Fountains of blood, mud and body parts.


My brother Priest Andrew McG posted this poem on Face Book today.   I commend it to you.   It brought tears to my old eyes


All day, day after day, they’re bringing them home,
they’re picking them up, those they can find, and bringing them home,
they’re bringing them in, piled on the hulls of Grants, in trucks, in convoys,
they’re zipping them up in green plastic bags,
they’re tagging them now in Saigon, in the mortuary coolness
they’re giving them names, they’re rolling them out of
the deep-freeze lockers — on the tarmac at Tan Son Nhut
the noble jets are whining like hounds,
they are bringing them home
– curly heads, kinky-hairs, crew-cuts, balding non-coms
– they’re high, now, high and higher, over the land, the steaming chow mein,
their shadows are tracing the blue curve of the Pacific
with sorrowful quick fingers, heading south, heading east,
home, home, home — and the coasts swing upward, the old ridiculous curvatures
of earth, the knuckled hills, the mangrove-swamps, the desert emptiness…
in their sterile housing they tilt towards these like skiers
– taxiing in, on the long runways, the howl of their homecoming rises
surrounding them like their last moments (the mash, the splendour)
then fading at length as they move
on to small towns where dogs in the frozen sunset
raise muzzles in mute salute,
and on to cities in whose wide web of suburbs
telegrams tremble like leaves from a wintering tree
and the spider grief swings in his bitter geometry
– they’re bringing them home, now, too late, too early.

Bruce Dawe (b. 1930).


There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from the soldiers' veins
And those who perished in that flood
Have mostly died in vain.

jmp adapted from a hymn.

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