I think the first time I ever read my work out loud to an audience was at a Memorial Day assembly in middle school. Our English class had been given an assignment to write a poem about our thoughts on Memorial Day. I took this very seriously because writing was already a passion. By then I’d proudly finished a 100-page novel based on my favorite GIJoe and Star Wars characters and was hard at work on what I was sure would be the next great American novel, an epic science fiction story involving heroic kids, an invasion of Earth, families torn apart by war, and of course some blatant ties to my beloved Star Wars (i.e., some stolen plans to a battle station). So I wrote the best poem I could and wouldn’t you know, my poem was chosen to be read at the assembly. I managed to cause a bit of controversy because one line used the word “hell.” It was in the proper context, but this was a small New England town in the 80s. Those were different times back then. I think the line was “some soldiers thought they were living through hell” or something like that. It rhymed well with whatever came before it, plus in my mind, it was true. To my school’s credit, no one asked me to change it.
Regardless of what I think about the conflicts our country is currently involved in or has been involved in previously, I have always thought highly of the men and women who put their lives on the line for our freedom and my right to have my own opinions. That’s what freedom is all about. A special thanks on this day to those who have served and who are currently serving and may be risking their lives. May you all come home safe.