I Hate Memorial Day

Every year I get a butt-load of e-mails telling me to catch these sale prices now.

Every year someone somewhere wishes me or the general population a “happy” Memorial Day.

Every year there is an obligatory news bite featuring “Taps” at Arlington National Cemetery, and every year several elected officials who have somehow gotten hold of my Net address admonish me to reflect. Reflect???

Every year my NRA-employed, Republican-voting nabe across the street hangs out a big mammyjammin’ flag.

I never hear anyone talk much about what they propose to do — what justice they will pursue, what inequity they will work to remedy, what diplomacy they will support — so that the world can stop having fucking wars.

Des Morgens zwischen drei’n und vieren,
da müssen wir Soldaten marschieren
das Gäßlein auf und ab,
trallali, trallaley, trallalera,
mein Schätzel sieht herab!

Ach Bruder, jetzt bin ich geschossen,
die Kugel hat mich schwere, schwer getroffen,
trag’ mich in mein Quartier,
trallali, trallaley, trallalera,
es ist nicht weit von hier!

Ach Bruder, ich kann dich nicht tragen,
die Feinde haben uns geschlagen!
Helf’ dir der liebe Gott!
Trallali, trallaley,
trallali, trallaley, trallalera!
Ich muß, ich muß marschieren bis in’ Tod!

Ach Brüder, ach Brüder,
ihr geht ja mir vorüber,
als wär’s mit mir vorbei!
Trallali, trallaley,
trallali, trallaley, trallalera!
Ihr tretet mir zu nah!

Ich muß wohl meine Trommel rühren,
ich muß meine Trommel wohl rühren,
trallali, trallaley, trallali, trallaley,
sonst werd’ ich mich verlieren,
trallali, trallaley, trallala.
Die Brüder, dick gesät,
sie liegen wie gemäht.

Er schlägt die Trommel auf und nieder,
er wecket seine stillen Brüder,
trallali, trallaley, trallali, trallaley,
sie schlagen und sie schlagen
ihren Feind, Feind, Feind,
trallali, trallaley, trallalerallala,
ein Schrecken schlägt den Feind!

Er schlägt die Trommel auf und nieder,
da sind sie vor dem Nachtquartier schon wieder,
trallali, trallaley, trallali, trallaley.
In’s Gäßlein hell hinaus, hell hinaus!
Sie zieh’n vor Schätzleins Haus.
Trallali, trallaley,
trallali, trallaley, trallalera,
sie ziehen vor Schätzeleins Haus, trallali.

Des Morgens stehen da die Gebeine
in Reih’ und Glied, sie steh’n wie Leichensteine
in Reih’, in Reih’ und Glied.
Die Trommel steht voran,
daß sie ihn sehen kann.
Trallali, trallaley,
trallali, trallaley, trallalera,
daß sie ihn sehen kann!


In the morning between three and four,
we soldiers must march
up and down the alley,
trallali, trallaley, trallalera,
my sweetheart looks down!

Oh, brother, now I’ve been shot,
the bullet has struck me hard,
carry me to my billet,
trallali, trallaley, trallalera,
it isn’t far from here!

Oh, brother, I can’t carry you,
the enemy has beaten us,
may the dear God help you!
Trallali, trallaley,
trallali, trallaley, trallalera,
I must, I must march on until death!

Oh, brothers, oh, brothers,
you go on past me
as if I were done with!
Trallali, trallaley,
trallali, trallaley, trallalera,
you’re treading too near to me!

I must nevertheless beat my drum,
I must nevertheless beat my drum,
trallali, trallaley, trallali, trallaley,
otherwise I will lose myself,
trallali, trallaley, trallala.
My brothers, thickly covering the ground,
lie as if mown down.

Up and down he beats the drum,
he wakes his silent brothers,
trallali, trallaley, trallali, trallaley,
they battle and they strike their enemy,
enemy, enemy,
trallali, trallaley, trallalerallala,
a terror smites the enemy!

Up and down he beats the drum,
there they are again before their billets,
trallali, trallaley, trallali, trallaley.
Clearly out into the alley!
They draw before sweetheart’s house,
trallali, trallaley,
trallali, trallaley, trallalera,
they draw before sweetheart’s house, trallali.

In the morning there stand the skeletons
in rank and file, they stand like tombstones,
in rank, in rank and file.
The drum stands in front,
so that he can be seen.
Trallali, trallaley,
trallali, trallaley, trallalera,
so that he can be seen.

And that’s what I wish they would play on the radio every Memorial Day.



4 thoughts on “I Hate Memorial Day


    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.

  2. Obv. it isn’t a thing here, but FB was all over coated with the snappiness.
    My dad did a good post, of an old photo and this: This Memorial day I’d like to honor my Great Grandfather, H M. He enlisted twice in Pennsylvania Volunteers in Civil War, as a teenager. He was 1st generation Irish American. After Civil War he enlisted in regular army and served in the Dakota Territory as a “Bluecoat”, until an ammo wagon turned over and crushed his leg. His father Edward, an Irish immigrant, joined Civil war at start, and served until it ended. He fought in all the major battles in Va., Md., including Gettysburg. Wounded on very last day of hostilities.
    I rather like that he didn’t go with any old shit, but picked an old-ass veteran to remember.
    It’s still war, of course. Think this dude also went on, crippled, to kill a bunch of Natives. So, yay.

    • Remembering individuals is so important that I hate to leave it to holidays. And I always wonder who those people would have been if they hadn’t found themselves in a war. Of course I have no good feelings about anyone I’m related to, which complicates my ability to “get it.”

      What gets me is the soft-focus, humming chorus stuff (or the entirely awful petroleum-fumed “let’s compare bikes” Thunder rally we suffer through here in DC every year. A little eye-piping and a lot of excuse to be drunk, belligerent assholes weaving through traffic).

      NOTHING should make war into a cheesy way to piggyback onto ennobling feelings, even if individuals in war often do noble things.

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