Sunday, May 29, 2011

Brothers in arms: a Memorial series

Music video of "Brothers in Arms" 
by Dire Straits, a United Kingdom  rock band

Memorial Day in music, poetry & images  
by Mike Marcellino

Part 2 of a series on Memorial Day in words, music and pictures 

Brothers in Arms

You might wonder why I selected a song by a British rock band as my favorite song relating to the Vietnam War.  Music was exploding in 1967 and 1968 while I served in the U. S. Army in Vietnam.  "Brothers in Army" isn't even about the Vietnam War, not even an American war, not even a big war.  

"Brothers in Arms" was written in 1985 by Dire Straits' leader singer and guitarist Mark Knopfler about the Falkland War between the UK and Argentina.  The war in 1982 was over possession of the Falkland Islands off the coast of Argentina..  

The casualties were relatively small, the British lost 255 soldiers while Argentina lost 649.  More than 58,000 American soldiers were killed in the Vietnam War along with millions of South Vietnamese, Viet Cong and North Vietnamese troops and Vietnamese civilians. But to loved ones of those lost in war, numbers mean nothing.  

I, along with many of my comrades who survived the Vietnam War, adopted "Brothers in Arms."  For me it best expressions my lasting remembrance of my fellow soldiers, especially those who did not come home.  An album of the same name was the number one album in the UK in 1985.  

In 2007 Knopfler rerecorded "Brothers in Arms" with all the proceeds going to British veterans of the Falkland Island War suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Bravo Mark! Some American musicians ought to follow your example and record music to benefit all those U. S. veterans suffering from PTSD, as well as physical wound.  

I invite you to listen to this beautiful and haunting song and the moving artwork on the video.

While I have written poems, or songs, about my experiences in the Vietnam War, I am sharing with you a piece I wrote a few nights ago, "We interrupt this broadcast.."  Reading it you may not think it has to do with Vietnam or Memorial Day, but it does.  But it puts those traumatic events in context, context of the tragedy and inhumanity of war and killing, the choice between war and peace, and the current state of our planet, and direction we are headed in the United States and around the world.  The context is not good and it doesn't look promising.  

We have more wars, environmental degradation, violence in our community, lack of opportunity for the poor and middle class for education, jobs and health care, increasing poverty, especially among children and injustice.  More and more Americans, whether conservative or liberal, have given up on politics and our leaders.  This is understandable considering the vast majority of our elected officials, especially at the national level, are just interested in being reelected and their own selfish interests and beliefs.

We interrupt this broadcast

We interrupt this broadcast
by Mike Marcellino

It's killing us -
You and Me.

What happened to our world?
Are our leader’s watchin 
too much TV?
Using it
against you and me?

It's killing us -
You and Me

More and more
between six and eight.
Arctic's melting,away
dead pools in the oceans. 
Magnetic north 
be in Russia soon.
Mass extinction
by humans, they say.

It's killing us -
You and Me

Sounds like a cheer
but they're no leaders 
No Martin, 
John, Bobby
no Gandhi
or Che. 

I heard 
crossing the campus -
they shot Kennedy.
For days we sat glued to TV.
We could still remember
Howdy Doody
and Mama.

It's killing us, -
You and Me

Was sixty-nine
our last rally?
A million or more 
against war
that cold, sunny day in DC.

Next May in Ohio
students shot dead
sticking flowers in rifles,
going to class at Kent State.
By the end of Vietnam
we lost 58,000 
and now I wonder 
where they are  
and everyone is 
on Memorial Day.

It's killing us -
You and Me.

Shoot the fray
capture words
get the story
on the border
in wooded jungles,
carry your wounds 
to candlelight vigils.

It's killing us -
You and Me.

Magnetic fields 
before 9-11.
Conspiracy theories
towers to heaven.
The revolution''s begun
in the streets of Jordan,
in the clouds, 
without leaders.

It's killing us -
You and Me.

Where is Zapata?
We're putting the Civil War
in the wrong century.

Get up!
Apocalypse Now's on TV.

We interrupt this broadcast 
to bring you the news.
The Revolution has begun.
If you don't believe it
check out YouTube
and Facebook 
and turn off the TV.

Copyright 2011 by Mike Marcellino

Fortunate Son
A music video of another of my favorite Vietnam War songs, "Fortunate Son," written by American rock singer John Fogerty and recorded by Creedence Clearwater Revival in 1969.  

It is #99 of Rollings Stone's 500 Greatest Songs.  I share the lyrics because they are so true in that the burden of fighting the Vietnam War, and all wars for that matter, was on the poor and working class. (This was especially true in the Vietnam War in that students in college could be deferred from serving as long as they were in school.) 

"Fortunate Son" by Creedence Clearwater Revival with some interesting Vietnam War images, produced by Hard Rain Productions

Finally, here is my poetry song, "The Walls of Fire" an ode to American soldiers' sacrifice from the Civil War to Afghanistan. (Just click on the link to access the music player, or go to the player at the top of the blog.)
To listen to "The Walls of Fire" just click on this link to my Facebook Musician/Band page.  You're welcome to share our music and like our band page!)