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Archive: Contents of American Haibun & Haiga Volume 1

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Jerry Kilbride

Losing Private Sutherland

Steven Spielberg's searing indictment of war--the bloody and horrendous carnage at Normandy Beach--was difficult to watch as I sat in the dark theater during a weekday matinee. Then, unexpectedly, the 506th was mentioned and I found myself on the verge of breaking down; that number identifying our basic training regiment triggered the old and unassuaged grief at Sutherland's death. A magnificent human being wasted in a forgotten war; the youth and promise of a good friend forfeited. I can still see him standing in combat boots smudged with Kentucky mud ... a residue of cold rain dripping from his helmet and poncho ... a cigarette in his mouth that he lights for me ... and then another he lights for himself. Pentimentoed under this memory, carried for almost 50 years, is a body riddled with bullets as it is washed away in the flashing rampage of a Korean river, and there follows a scene long and relentlessly willed to stave off madness ... sediment settles gently on my friend's handsome face ... peacefully ... softly ... quietly .... Yes, the soldier can no longer hear gunfire; the young soldier can no longer hear the river thundering into his throat. He is quiet ... as I soon will be quiet ...

the flag folded
something of myself is lowered
with his coffin

 


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