Sojourner Kincaid Rolle reading her poem at Arlington West 10-year anniversary
Sojourner Kincaid Rolle reading her poem at Arlington West 10-year anniversary
For M/Sgt John G. Kincaid, Jr.; Lt. Col. James and Shirley Kennedy; Sgt. Robert Potter.

Arlington West at Santa Barbara
Ten years bearing witness to scores of wartime dead.
Years of toil and dedication and sweat
etched in the silhouette of every faded footstep in the sand

Here seagulls fly over and stand in formation
like sentries on the beach come wind or calm
and cormorant perch atop the wooden posts
at dawn and in the noonday sun.

Sundays came and went
Crosses went up and were taken down.
Flags were raised and lowered in due respect
Faithful stood and walked among the crowd
and loved ones found their beloved’s names
serving ribboned duty in the sand.

Tears were shed for those whose names were written
and those whose names we carried in our hearts
This tear-drenched sand rendered sacred by our presence
and in its ebb and flow, the tide claimed its
everlasting salt; its worth forever mingled with the sea.

Here we remember those who died in Iraq and Afghanistan ;
and through them every war-dead:
Those who succumbed in a desert storm
and by association those whose wounded
hearts and minds with mangled bodies
live long enough to come back home
only to crumble on the doorstep of their birth.

Here’s to those who died from any war – every war –
On rural roads across the desolate plains;
on urban streets and boulevards;
in run-down crevices and cracks;
in make-shift shelters from the storms;
their minds etched with horrid acts of inhumanity.

Neither rank nor privilege; no class, no hierarchy
nor hoarded stores of grain
can hide from sight the simple crosses –
row on row – all equal in their silent witness;
deafening testimony to the awful cost of war

Here where palm trees sway in stately splendor
like the cedars in ancient Lebanon;
Here where white crosses present
like poppies on a distant battlefield;
Here in the face of every blue-bright morning
in the sight of every red-tinged sunset,
memory resides.

The seagulls will still stand facing the setting sun.
Visitors will still come to see this hallowed place
where martyred names stood in testament..

Here’s to the memories of veterans past.
Here’s to the hope that there will be no veterans
of future wars.

Here’s to the Veterans of Peace and
to the citizens of good-will, and to all who came
and will come to this place of remembrance.
Here’s to Arlington West at Santa Barbara
Here’s to Peace –

Sojourner Kincaid Rolle – Nov. 2013
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