I have many memories of the Massachusetts town where I grew up. This memoir poem seems quite appropriate for today.
Memorial Day, 1959
The man was huge, his horse gigantic,
a living, heroic bronze with a clerical collar.
The Reverend Headmaster of the local Prep School
headed the small town parade.
His bald head mirrored the bright sun.
My Brownie uniform, ironed by my mother,
was perfect, white anklets with Girl Scout patches.
Down Main Street, horse high-stepping, we marched.
Red, white and blue fluttered from every hand,
shouts, yells, claps from crowds of our neighbors.
Longest I had ever walked in my 8 years.
Yet I blazed with pride when my turn came
to carry the big flag, rippling and flapping,
pole butt nestled in the leather cup.
My right-handed grasp turned out like a salute.
As crowds thinned, I kept trudging on hot asphalt
behind my friends’ dads and the old men.
Some could not make it all the way
to the new cemetery so rode in flashy, red
convertibles offered by the VFW or SAR.
Graveside, I counted the twenty-one gun salute,
waiting for the one cannon blast.
Too much later I learned the land we walked and lived on,
in this 300-year-old American Revolutionary town,
was repeatedly and savagely wrested
from the Nipmuks and the Pocumtucks.
They lost their war.
My generation is only beginning to remember them.