EXCERPTS FROM THE BOOK
The soldier staggered along the side of the hill, trying to keep his footing in the ever-slippery muck—dazed, bewildered and in a state of utter exhaustion, his mind trying to grasp, trying to put the situation in proper perspective—holding his rifle in one hand, the other outstretched as though trying to balance his sliding feet. Muffled cries of the wounded and dying filled his ears, though the subconscious tried to block them out.
Suddenly, before him lay a wounded khaki-clad soldier, shoulder deep in mud, his ankles hidden underneath the tracks of a disabled tank. The soldier dropped his rifle, looked at the mammoth tank with utter helplessness; the lying man looked up with pleading eyes for help. Cursing, shouting, crying, calling upon God, in sheer disgust for the world and everything in it—in utter desperation, the soldier bent with outstretched arms and leaned against the front of the now immobile tank—as one would attempt to move an automobile stuck in the snow. His eyes bulging, every sinew tearing, every back muscle stretched to pain, he pushed as his tired feet slid in the water-soaked ground—God! Oh God help me!
Slowly, as if by sheer strength of will, the tank slid back on the slippery terrain a few inches and came to a halt, but it was enough to expose the crushed ankle of the fallen soldier. Be it a miracle or the circumstances of the mud and angle of the hill—that a mere mortal was able to move 34 tons of steel—I shall never know how I did it . . .
State of the Union
In time of war the soldier is the knight in shining armor. “Go, help us please, do battle and if necessary, lay down your life,” we are told. But in peacetime, he is an unpleasant reminder. His wounds need binding and his dependents need support. Many in our nation would prefer to turn their heads the other way and not remember. Perhaps they feel that if they ignore us long enough, we will just disappear.
In 1943 in North Africa, a little east of Algiers in the windswept sands, we came across an abandoned French Foreign Legion outpost. On one of the mud-caked walls, a Legionnaire had scrawled in French, “When one of us is wounded, we all bleed, so make sure to bind up his wounds tightly, so that we all may live.” How true his words, how broad his meaning! I have tried to picture his face a thousand times. God has sent him whoever he is . . .
We who have banded together and call ourselves the Disabled American Veterans shall continue to cry out for justice. Since the days of our Revolutionary War and the conflicts that followed, those disabled in battle received the empathy, support and gratitude of our great nation. We deserve no less. . . . If eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, then I say eternal persistence in our determination to see that all or brothers and sisters are provided for is the price of justice.
The History Professor Turns 80
by Stephen Wing
a birthday poem
October 13, 2001
Among the unexpected pleasures
The history professor poses
But the lines go deeper than they look.
This professor learned his history
"The real Harry died on my birthday
And when they sent him home
"How long can you hold on to your sanity,
The language of death advances
But behind him as he poses in the restaurant
"With all the men that stood at my side
The history professor grows weary