As should we all

The last combatant of the Great War died today.
There were others before that, others to come
and more after that from wars yet to be fought.
Who knows?
Well I do, for one.

Weep for him then, he was real. He lived and died
and ended a tale writ in the blood of those now forgot.
No story was theirs of tactics and strategies,
principles and beliefs, rights and wrongs done by.
No photograph, no letter, no film, no story,
no person could tell that dead tale as did he, living.
Who knows?
Well you do, for one.

No one can cry enough for them of a thousand fields
nor curse enough they who put them there.
There has never been a great war, let alone a good.
There have only been wars of rapacious intent
botched before the slaughter started,
botched after the slaughter ended.
Who knows?
Well we do, for one.

It’s not the courage, it’s not the strength,
it’s not the sacrifice, the honor or the glory.
It’s not the fear, the joy, the love or the loss,
the guilt or the luck or the sadness.
It begins with obedience and it ends with endurance
and the rest be damned to hell.
Who knows?
Well he did, for one.
Aye, weep.

I was encouraged to find this old poem and post it out by two posts of JR Benjamin on his blog The Bully Pulpit, here and here. I encourage you to read them.

It is true that the last combatant of World War I is passed on. That story focused my thoughts on the great admiration and compassion I hold for those who fight at times of war, and how it is matched by my disdain for those who cause and pursue them wantonly.

Thank you for reading As should we all. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.


© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2013 by John Etheridge,


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9 responses to “As should we all

  1. So powerful…, very well written John.

    Warm regards,

    • Thank you, Mei! It’s interesting why I never posted it before this. The original (I changed it a bit for this posting) is actually quite old. I am glad I finally got to it.

  2. Sometimes, I really wonder whether like being a soldier. Are you in USofA? Isn’t it mandatory that men will be drafted? You are right, who knows.

    • Seeker, I think the years have taught us that it is hard, very hard to be a soldier and doubly hard if you do not believe in the mission you are trying to do. And yes, I am in the US and am, in fact, originally Canadian, but I am far too old to have to worry about being drafted. Moreover, there has been no draft in the US since Vietnam. Thank heavens! I have two sons who would have been eligible. Thank you so much for dropping by the Book of Pain.

  3. I don’t know how you’ve produced this much in a week. Great to catch up on your work, which seems to get more refined and powerful with each visit.

    Also, a thanks for linking to my site. Always much appreciated.

    • JR, I get such inspiration from, and enjoy reading you site so much, that it is always a pleasure to give it a glowing, positive reference. It is interesting that you say that my work is getting more refined. I have just recently passed the one year posting mark and have been going back through my older poems and re-reading them. In fact, I have decided that since my output is so slow, I am going to re-post a series of older poems just for the pleasure of seeing a few of them refreshed a bit and again in front of people. I look forward to what you think of those, too.