Sound Off: ‘Where the Spirit Fought, Remains a Scar’

Those who have witnessed the horror of war can tell you the truth: the carnage of combat deeply troubles the mind. To face the grim prospect of your own death; to see your buddies blown to bits; to watch friends carried from battle, their bodies bleeding and broken; these are dreadful sights, visions that forever haunt a veteran’s memory.

The scenes of war hit Harold Applebaum’s heart with enormous force during World War II and he tried to make sense of his feelings by writing poetry in the lulls between the battles. In a poem called “The Good Fight,” he makes a statement: “Where the spirit fought remains a scar, and blood shall not lose its keen respect for death.”

As we observe Veterans Day 2004, this idea has power to pulse in the heart of every man and woman we honor on this day. Like our WW II poet, each of us once struggled in spirit. When we put on that military uniform, we understood the cost of duty. We were being asked to give up years of our lives tao serve our country. Not one of us knew if we would come home in one piece, or even alive. But as Harold Applebaum said in his poem, we found ourselves “braver for the test.” And frankly, most of us were very surprised in the depths of our hearts. Many of us today know the meaning of the poem’s reference to scars and blood.

I represent the Disabled American Veterans (DAV). As our name implies, our whole purpose is focused on men and women who came home sick and injured from war and armed conflict. But you don’t have to be a member of the DAV to respect the sacrifices of our wartime, disabled veterans.

Each freedom-loving person today cares about those whose bodies and minds bear the scars of war. The human cost of war is high -- appallingly high. This year on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, my heart goes out to the young Americans who are paying that price even now, in Iraq and Afghanistan. On Veterans Day, this year, we fellow veterans honor them as the newest members of our band of brothers and sisters. We welcome them into a proud fraternity of those who served our nation well in times of peace and peril. “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan.” When it comes to the men and women who served our land, those are the words Abraham Lincoln chose to state the nation’s obligation.

There’s scarcely a home in the United States that’s untouched by the cause of America’s veterans. In almost every family, there is someone who served. Why not remember them by purchasing a commemorative paving brick, with an inscription, and place it in the Veteran’s Memorial Plaza, located in Island County Law and Justice Center in Coupeville. For applications, contact the DAV office at 257-4801.

David Michel is commander, Disabled American Veterans, Whidbey Island Chapter 47. Write to P.O. Box 296, Oak Harbor, WA 98277.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the Oct 22
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates