Featured Writer: Joseph S. Pete

Raja's Insight

From California to the New York Island

On Memorial Day, amid all the mattress sales,

the sprawling, shambolic family gathered

in a beige-carpeted living room

with kitschy flag throw pillows

and faded-glory reproductions

for a patriotism-themed “presentation”

complete with a printed-out program

that was folded and stapled with care.

Scrubbed young kids,

dutifully accompanied

by a Golden Retriever,

marched upfront.

They rattled off the Pledge of Allegiance,

an uncertain list of all the states,

the Preamble to the Constitution,

capping it all with a warbling rendition

of “This Land is Your Land.”

They grasped to remember the words,

their memory banks depleted

from all that rote recitation.

The veteran squirmed the whole time

and cringed when asked

to summarize his service

to the extended family in attendance.

He was the only one to have served

after the military went from a universal rite of passage

to an all-volunteer suicide squad.

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