Tuesday, August 3, 2010

*Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing . . .

The Sleeping Giant, a mountain in Mt. Carmel
Hamden Veterans Memorial
43 Norwood Avenue, Mt. Carmel (my birthplace)
Pretty cocky at 14

For Eddie and for Bobby and for my lost 16-year-old Self

We didn't have much money when I was young; but, I thought we were rich because we had a television and "two" cars, a 1951  and a 1954 Nash (how uncool!)

I lived in the shadow of The Sleeping Giant, a mountain in Mt. Carmel--- a quiet post-WW II neighborhood, ten miles from New Haven and Yale.

It was the 1950's and all was well in America.  Eisenhower was president and I still remember him "ending" the Korean War "on tv", or so it seemed to me.

In 1955 modernity came to our neighborhood when a "development" was built at the end of my street along the pine forest abutting the Water Company property which encompassed the Mill River. It was the first time I had seen a "ranch house."

A family much like ours bought the first new house at the end of the street: mother, father, and two brothers, Eddie and Bobby, about my age and my own brother's age. They were handsome, athletic boys.

I stayed in that neighborhood until 1961 when I was 16 and my parents moved "up" by building a house nearer to 'the Giant'.

Time passed.

I went to college and I lost touch with my old neighborhood and those brothers.

Six years later my sleepy moderate Republican mentality was shattered when the graduate school I was attending, Kent State University, became the the most infamous university in the world on May 4, 1970.

Fast-forward 40 years to 2010.

I am living in Vermont and a Hamden friend sends me a copy of The Hamden Almanac, a summer news sheet created to advertise my old hometown. Inside is a feature about the Hamden Veterans Memorial with a huge color photo of a small section (the "h" section) of the alphabetized bronze memorial to Hamden's fallen veterans. There, right there, staring me in the face, are the bronzed names of my two neighborhood chums, Eddie and Bobby, one after the other: Bronze, but brothers still---side by side.

While I was watching blood be shed at Kent State,  apparently their blood was being shed in Viet Nam.

Today's New York Times Op-Ed Page has a column by the indefatigably irate and brilliantly articulate Bob Herbert.

Hear what he says:

War is a meat grinder for service members and their families. It grinds people up without mercy, killing them and inflicting the worst kinds of wounds imaginable, physical and psychological . . .

July was the deadliest month yet for American troops in Afghanistan. Sixty-six were killed, which was six more than the number who died in the previous most deadly month, June. The nation is paying little or no attention to those deaths, which is shameful . . .

We’re getting the worst of all worlds in Afghanistan: We’re not winning, and we’re not cutting our tragic losses. Most Americans don’t care because they’re not feeling any of the tragic losses. A tiny, tiny portion of the population is doing the fighting, and those troops are sent into the war zone for tour after tour, as if they’re attached to a nightmarish yo-yo.

And I think of  Eddie and Bobby, gone for decades without my knowing it,  and my own loved ones in the military right now.

Long time passing . . .

No comments: