Today I’m thinking about “The Young Dead Soldiers Do Not Speak,” a poem by Archibald MacLeish. I read it for the first time when I was walking through the Presidio with my friend Mary. It’s engraved in the stones in the Presidio above the San Francisco National Cemetery, and it’s the perfect way to commemorate this day:
The Young Dead Soldiers Do Not Speak
The young dead soldiers do not speak.
Nevertheless, they are heard in the still houses:
who has not heard them?
They have a silence that speaks for them at night
and when the clock counts.
They say: We were young. We have died.
They say: We have done what we could
but until it is finished it is not done.
They say: We have given our lives but until it is finished
no one can know what our lives gave.
They say: Our deaths are not ours: they are yours,
they will mean what you make them.
They say: Whether our lives and our deaths were for
peace and a new hope or for nothing we cannot say,
it is you who must say this.
We leave you our deaths. Give them their meaning.
We were young, they say. We have died; remember us.
Happy Memorial day everyone,