Saturday, June 7, 2014

In Memoriam: June 6, 1944

Claude Monet, Haystacks at Chailly at Sunrise, 1865

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
— Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

— Wilfred Owen, “Anthem for Doomed Youth

Related reading:
Ernie Pyle, “A Pure Miracle” (June 12, 1944)
Ernie Pyle, “The Horrible Waste of War” (June 16, 1944)
Ernie Pyle, “A Long Thin Line of Personal Anguish” (June 17, 1944)

Poet and Second Lieutenant Wilfred Owen was killed in action on November 4, 1918, exactly one week before the signing of the Armistice which ended World War I. He had returned to the front from England in July 1918, where he had been treated for shell shock, even though he might have stayed on home duty for the duration of the war.

War correspondent and civilian Ernie Pyle was killed by machine gun fire on April 18, 1945 on Ie Shima, northwest of Okinawa. The monument American soldiers erected to him on site was one of three monuments the Japanese allowed to remain when the island was returned to their control after the war.

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