For Veterans Day here's a poem about a member of the Greatest Generation. They say my dad was never the same after he came back from the war, but who would be? Anyway, I was born too late to know for sure. However, it's important to know that Aldermaston, a village in Berkshire, was the site of much of England's nuclear weapons research and the site, during the post-war years, of many protests. For additional wistful half-truths and poorly recounted history, visit alanwalowitz.com.
The Greatest Generation
Thousands of protesters from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (C.N.D.) converged on the
Berkshire village of Aldermaston yesterday to commemorate the birth of Britain's anti-nuclear movement.
My father didn’t need to go anywhere
since he’d done the continent all-expenses-paid—
they even gave him grenade and gun.
But why not visit Aldermaston, son?
and see the castle there—
this a place he’d spent a week or so
before being tossed in the fog,
through France, Belgium, and on to Remagen,
then deeper in the dark, where,
being trapped so long, he hoped I might find
any place he’d actually been at all.
I took a shot with my Canon
through the ornate iron gates,
which masked the steel supports behind
sunk meters deep
and reinforced up top with ribbons of razor wire.
Then a man in uniform emerged from the manor
marching smartly in my direction.
He figured I was CND
and out to case the joint,
or start a riot then and there
and get my mug in the dailies.
He said he’d hold the camera
but I should feel free to walk the grounds—
outside the perimeter—
and notify the sentry when I was done.
An hour later, the camera was returned, but film gone,
and bought, at the only pub in town,
a fine picture postcard of the castle,
taken from inside the gates one fine May day—
with lays of lilies aground,
festive balloons in air
and battlements festooned with flags of all nations.
When I returned, I offered that postcard
with the pride of a man
who has accomplished much
in the face of great adversity.
Dad studied and agreed, That’s the place.
I told him, The picture’s for you to keep.
He tossed it back as if
it had been brought by a dangerous stranger,
and exploded in my hands with a—
What would I want with that?
originally appeared in the D-Day 70th Anniversary Anthology, mgv2>publishing
© 2018 Alan Walowitz
Editor's Note: If this poem(s) moves you please consider writing to the author (email address above) to tell him or her. You might say what it is about the poem that moves you. Writing to the author is the beginning of community at Verse Virtual. It is very important. -FF