Armistice    —by Jinny Batterson

My uncle was killed in Germany near the end of the “good war.”
His remains lie under a marble marker at Arlington Cemetery,
Among many others making graceful arcs
Along the slopes surrounding a former Lee family mansion.

My dad never talked coherently about the kamikaze attack
On the aircraft carrier where he served in the Pacific.
I only found out about it after he’d taken the incident
To his grave–perhaps his final Alzheimer’s-garbled
Ramblings were a belated attempt to let the trauma out.

Many of my boomer cohort were killed or scarred
By Vietnam, a tragic conflict that still
Haunts American military and political life.
Since then we’ve had Gulf wars, wars on terror,
Afghanistan. I’ve tried to teach my children
A piece of my truth,” Nobody wins a war.”

The original title of the holiday that in the U.S.A.
Now honors all veterans was Armistice Day,
Celebrating the 11 a.m., November 11, 1918
End of hostilities on the Western Front
Of the “War to End All Wars.”

We have yet to end all wars.
From current evidence, this task will take more
Generations. However, if we honor our veterans,
Encouraging them to teach their children and their
Children’s children their war truths:
Occasional heroism, frequent sacrifices, boredom,
Amid much horror and destruction, we may eventually
Create peace.

In the meantime, as our weaponry gets ever
More powerful, as our human impact on
The planet gets more pronounced, we’d be well advised,
Whatever our politics, posturing, or preening,
To make armistice with another truth: “Nature always wins.” 

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