Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

We are All the Parents of our Soldiers: American Red

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bob at 2:06 pm on Friday, August 27, 2021

By Robert M. Katzman © August 27, 2021

Long time ago

My family immigrated 

To America

No one spoke English

All were part of

Our mysterious religion

Hated on both sides 

Of the Atlantic

All four thought


The better bet


Some went right back

As American soldiers

Spoke the new language 

Well enough

To fight for their 

New country


By War’s end

Everyone knew

Everyone’s blood

Was the same color:

American Red


I am a

Son of a Soldier 

Nephew of a Soldier

Very close Friends

With two Soldiers

More like Brothers

No, they are 

My Brothers

All I could do

Was read about 

All their Wars 



Now so long ago

America called me up

For yet another War

Then turned me away

Said I was damaged

I was too damaged

To serve

Not acceptable

For the US Army


Stunned — 

I was a

Damaged teenager?

Others might 

Have been thrilled

“Ya missed a bullet!”

They’d say, and laugh


Some marched in protest

Some left my country

Never an option for me

I was my Father’s son

I was a Soldier’s son


I was deeply 


Not good enough

For my country’s Army

For my Immigrant’s Army

For my Father’s Army

For my Uncle’s Army

For my Friend’s Army

Even tho’ most of them

Were eventually

Damaged, too


None of them

Were more 


Than I was

None of them 

Were braver 

Than I was


All of us were

Equally terrified


But we would

Always be

Forever different

They were Soldiers —

I was not


Cancer at 18

Was never my

“Get out of Jail Free!” card

I was cut open 

Many times

Dozens of times

Long after 

The others’ Wars


Didn’t make any difference

Not to me

They were Soldiers —

I was not


But their stories

So many stories

Filled my mind:

Their loneliness

Their fear of battle

Their fear of being wounded

Their wounds

Their friends who died

Their friends who came home

Far more damaged

Than I was once

Than I am now


My strange “patriotism”

Is uncomplicated

I understand 

All the history

I’ve read about

The million wars

The unquestioned 


Of almost any war


I don’t “love” my country

My country is

Stone, sand, water

Earth, trees, soil

Mountains, valleys, deserts

My country is a thing


What I do love

Is that people from

One hundred countries

Came here

Joined together

Built towns, cities

Created railroads

Created a nation 


One hundred million 



We don’t all

Love each other

Far too many

Don’t even 

Like each other

Unless we’re attacked

As a nation

Then we all transform

Into Americans


More of an idea than 

A race, religion or a people

While a war is on

We fight for each other

In essence

We want to be free

To mistreat each other

Hate whom we choose

Keep the Rich


The Poor


Until the War ends

All the rest evaporates


Only Americans can 

Mistreat Americans

The rest of you

Beyond our borders

Beyond our shores

Watch it!


However horrible we

Are to each other

We’re somehow

Still a family

Still one people


But the Soldiers


They don’t choose 

Their wars

They don’t hate


The other Guys are

They go where 

They are sent

They die where

They are sent

Then silence



And as I became older

As I had my Children

As I learned 

From afar

Always from afar

Other Parents’

Children dying in battles

Other Parents’ 

Children blown up

To the sky


Faceless Firecrackers


Casualties of the Moment

Transformed into 



Something strange 

Happened to me

I felt their loss

Like being stabbed

In my heart 

Like they were

My Sons

My Daughters

American Children

From many countries

One hundred countries

All of them bleeding:

American Red 


That is what it always

Boils down to

As the years pass

The Wars fade away


But not in the Families

Whose Children

Black, White, Brown, Olive

Colors don’t mean a thing

Religion doesn’t mean a thing

Politics don’t mean a thing

All those faraway graves

Filled with their Children 

Who grew up

To die for America

Across the Centuries

Their many veins bleeding

Joining together 

Into a vast Sea of:

American Red


1 Comment »

Comment by Brad Dechter

August 27, 2021 @ 3:18 pm

I am uncertain about this writing- not that I am a serious critic who gets art.
I see the setting up of the blending of the races /different ethnics and cultures at the beginning, and I see the deep dive into your personal situation in the middle, and the blending at the end into blood representing the fact the various people are all patriots dying for a single cause.
I am struggling- I think- because it is a morbid subject and not one I am comfortable with. As someone who missed all the wars and never served, I do not feel guilty, and I feel as patriotic as anyone else in the USA. Hell, those folks that rushed the capital January 6th should be hanged as treasonous, yet some would consider that the spilling of American Red. I am unsettled.

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