Museum Memory

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I walked through the cool recesses of the museum.
past the displays of ancient times onto the section of war.
Recent wars, wars that we learned about in school.
Banners, criss-crossing the air, each broadcasting the propaganda
meant to drive the mighty war machine of men and women.
I walked silently, reverently, past the children
gleefully playing at war on the old tanks and jeeps,
while parents watched, laughing, from the sidelines.
I walked past the displays of memorabilia, pieces of history,
collected as souvenirs, from the fallen bodies
of those we considered our enemies,
instead, just mere lives, tragically cut short by the war.
My mind, and body, are drawn instinctively,
to the display at the end.
The wall that pulls all the displays together, and perhaps,
gives some meaning to those who will listen.
Displays that capture a moment in time
that will forever remain entombed here.
The very wall, that I now stand before.
The very wall that now reaches out,
and with a fierceness grabs and holds my heart
in its soul-piercing grasp.
There it is!

The sum total of this not so ancient war.

There it is!

It is hanging in all it’s crisp folds and pristine stars!
It’s color’s brightly preserved for the future generations,
who will look on it, and question, Why?

Our flag is now safely ensconced
within it’s controlled environment casement.
But for as much as the flag alone means, to those of us
who call ourselves Americans.
It is not the flag that yanks at the heart and soul,
bringing the hot, regretful tears to my eyes.
My soul is pierced to the very core by the old, bent and rusted dog tags,
No doubt found on some distant body unknown to me.
They are glued in their place,
to look like they have been lovingly hung on the corner
of the old, yellowed photograph just today.
The photo is of a handsome, uniformed man,
caught in a moment with a gentle smile on his lips,
reminiscent of his cherished youthful exuberance.

He is now, never to grow old, forever caught as a youth.
His gentle life lost on some far away shores.
Now remembered, in the climate controlled atmosphere of a museum,
where children play at war on the very means of his destruction.

Lee McQuinn
0358-010120001700

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