Sacrifice. 🕊

    May 31, 2021

    Memorial Day 2021

    ‘Lasting peace requires its active and systematized cultivation at every level of government and society.’

    -Marianne Williamson

    Thinking today of the Black Americans who returned from WW’s I and II only to be met with deeper segregation, violence and lynchings. -dayle




    Targeting Black Veterans

    Lynching in America

    Read the report

    Inspired to defend their country and pursue greater opportunity, African Americans have served in the U.S. military for generations. But instead of being treated as equal members of society upon their return from military service, thousands of Black veterans were accosted, attacked, or lynched between the end of the Civil War and the post-World War II era.

    During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, white supremacy remained law and custom throughout the nation, and many whites feared that Black soldiers who had experienced the pride of military service would resist the disenfranchisement, segregation, and second-class citizenship that still characterized the African American experience. In August 1917, U.S. Senator James Vardaman of Mississippi warned that, once a Black soldier was allowed to see himself as an American hero, it would be “but a short step to the conclusion that his political rights must be respected.” Bringing Black soldiers home to the South with expectations of equality, he predicted, would “inevitably lead to disaster.”


    From professor and author Timothy Snyder:

    “This one, from Polish, is about trauma, so I thought it might be fitting for May 31st, which in the United States is Memorial Day.”

    ‘After the Storm’ by Maria Konopnicka, from 1902.

    [“The titular storm is never actually described. It is between the stanzas, in the past.”]

    Oh lord, who grants to his world the rainbow

    Who lifts to bent flowers a cup from below

    Who unfolds the wings of the chick in the nest

    Who purples the clouds that escape to the west

    By morning the village is free from all care

    Here an apple tree’s tended, a roof repaired there

    And ere the young dawn can cast its first light

    The good country folk have forgotten their fright

    Oh lord, who every last trace of discord

    Erases from earth by a merciful word

    And stills forest’s fierce cry and ocean’s low moan

    In the all-quiet heavens where you have your throne

    Yet to the wrecked human heart, shattered by storm

    Instead of the peace of the spectrum’s calm glow

    You give endless thunder without sound or form

    Echoes of storms past, memory’s woe.

    Konopnicka is out of fashion now, even in Poland.  The painting by Józef Chełmoński, of the same era (1896), reminds us of the sensibility.

    “There is something sharp here: the confession in the last stanza. Her brave point is that a conceit of art, that nature expresses the soul, that outer appearances reveal inner experiences, is false.  A storm means one thing in nature, and another inside a person.

    So this is a poem about trauma that acknowledges God, but as something other than consolation.  God and nature are on one side, and the person is on the other. The poem is not hopeless, though: by placing her predicament beyond God and nature, Konopnicka is taking responsibility for defining it herself.  She does so, I think, rather beautifully.”

    [Posted on Twitter by Jonathan Reiner: “Omaha Beach Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, France.”]

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