From Vietnam Veterans Against the War,

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2015: At Vietnam's 40th Anniversary of Independence Day Parade (poem)

By r g cantalupo

So beautiful were the faces in the sun's early light, and so young,
parading with their colorful banners flying above their heads—
reds, blues, whites, gold—and each so different!

I sit in the bandstand and watch each assemblage pass by—
round, brown faces from one of the far provinces, lighter
brown faces and taller bodies from one of the others,
peasants and farmers and students, young children in
school uniforms, old veterans from a war, marching in unison, struggling to keep up, brightly
costumed villagers
donning exotic hats and playing strange instruments
as they walk, peasant women and women soldiers
with hoes and rifles and wide smiles, young men and boys
and fathers strutting past with medals draped on
their pressed greens, rifles slung from their shoulders
and singing battle hymns…

For a flash, I go to put my hand over my heart—
then I realize this is not my country, not my anthem,
not my flag—

but oh how I wished it could've been—all the young
enthusiasm and hope of a new, free world—
how I was, once, at seventeen or eighteen,

before this, or any war.

—r g cantalupo

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