Monday, October 25, 2010

'Your Son . . . Has Paid A Soldier's Debt'

Mark Daily was the young Californian who had been persuaded by Christopher Hitchens' writings to enlist and volunteer for Iraq, where he was killed by a roadside bomb after volunteering to take the place of a colleague.

In Hitch-22, Hitchens recalls his horror and guilt after he learned of Daily's death. He reaches out to Daily's family and later is invited to join them for the scattering of the 23-year-old's ashes:
So it was that in August I found myself on the dunes by an especially lovely and remote stretch of Oregon coastline. . . . As the sun began to sink on a day that had been devoted to reminiscence and moderate drinking, we took up the tattered Stars and Stripes that had flown outside the family home since Mark's deployment and walked to his favorite spot to plant it. Everyone was supposed to say something, but when John Daily took the first scoop from the urn and spread the ashes on the breeze, there was something so unutterably final in the gesture that tears seemed as natural as breathing and I wasn't at all sure that I could go through with it. My idea had been to quote from the last scene of Macbeth, which is the only passage I know that can hope to rise to such an occasion. The tyrant and usurper has been killed, but Ross has to tell old Siward that his boy has perished in the struggle:

Your son, my lord, has paid a soldier's debt;
He only lived but till he was a man;
The which no sooner had his prowess confirm'd
In the unshrinking station where he fought,
But like a man he died.

This being Shakespeare, the truly emotional and understated moment follows a beat or two later, when Ross adds:

Your cause of sorrow
Must not be measured by his worth, for then
It hath no end.

1 comment:

muebles en madrid said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.