Honor the fallen, but not every war they were sent to fight

Not least among the victims claimed by the coronavirus pandemic was a poetry recital that was to have occurred in March at a theater in downtown Boston.

I had been invited to read aloud a poem, and I chose “On a Soldier Fallen in the Philippines,” written in 1899 by William Vaughn Moody (1869-1910). You are unlikely to have heard of the poet or his composition. Great literature, it is not. Yet its message is memorable.

The subject of Moody’s poem is death, a matter today much on all our minds. It recounts the coming home of a nameless American soldier, killed in the conflict commonly but misleadingly known as the Philippine Insurrection.

In 1898, U.S. troops landed in Manila to oust the Spanish overlords who had ruled the Philippines for more than three centuries. They accomplished this mission with the dispatch that a later generation of U.S. forces demonstrated in ousting regimes in Kabul and Baghdad. Yet as was the case with the Afghanistan and Iraq wars of our own day, real victory proved elusive.

Read the full article here in The Los Angeles Times.

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