A Noble Enterprise

Today my body lies upon the wide,
green meadow, being warmed by the sun
of late afternoon. Now all is calm, peaceful,
with birds cheerfully singing, yellow butterflies
dancing midst the flowers that never smelled
so sweet, nor possessed such vibrant colors.
A gentle breeze rustles the leaves of nearby trees,
as it slowly herds puffy, cotton-ball clouds across
the cerulean sky. This morning’s mayhem is but
a distant memory.

How bravely we had rallied to the call to offer
ourselves for such an honorable, heroic purpose.
We left our homes as braggarts, swaggering
in our confidence of returning filled with pride,
covered with glory. Our foes were a backward,
inferior, evil race, in need of being taught a lesson.
War is such a grand, a noble enterprise for young men!
All our generals and politicians proclaim it so.

The battle raged on all the morning -- out of the woods,
across this meadow, through a breach in their lines,
driven back into the meadow, the air filled with horrific
noise, dust, smoke, and confusion. The dead and dying
lay everywhere, blood spurting, heads and limbs severed -
incredible gore; oh, the gore! Screams of agony replaced
our proud boasts. How could their inferior warriors fight
so ferociously for their unholy cause? Why did I not see any
of our generals? The last I knew I was charging, weapon raised…
now I rest in this peaceful meadow, vultures circling overhead.
I found no glory, no grandeur, no nobility in the reality of war.
I lie dead in this foreign place, where the cream of our nation’s
youth shall remain,… buried along with all of their dreams.

Harry Edward Gilleland      09.27.02