With July 4th past, it seems time to note this sonnet.
We're here to honor those who went to war
And did not mean to die, but did die, grievously,
In eighteen sixty-one and in two-thousand four
though they were amiable as you or me.
Young and hopeful, knowing little of horror--
Singers and athletes, and gently bred.
Good sergeants turned them into warriors,
and at the end, they were moving straight ahead.
As we look on these gravestones, row on row on row,
See the men as they were, laughing and joking,
On that bright irreverent morning long ago,
And once more, let our hearts be broken.
God have mercy on them for their unhappy gift.
May we live the good lives they might have lived.
Keillor, 77 Love Sonnets, p.115 (2009)