Two Went to War


While walking around my neighborhood in Reno in 1971, I discovered the American Legion hall, Darrell Dunkle Post #1.  It had been named for Dunkle because he was the first person from Reno to be killed in World War I. In 1917 at the age of 22, he left the university to join the army. On July 18, 1918, he was killed in France. World War I was called the war to end all war. I wonder if Darrell believed that?  His story intrigues; what would he think about the world today?  I composed a song in his honor; Darrell Dunkle, Darrell Dunkle, where are you, where are you?  Sung to the tune of Frère Jacques (Brother John), the question has stayed in my head for forty years.

Darrell Dunkle fascinates me because we traveled the same path. His took him to Europe to end war and make the world safe for democracy.  Mine led from Reno to Laos and Vietnam.  My war was meant to stop the spread of communism and to protect democracy.  In the end, we went in different directions. He was killed. I survived. However, the outcome of our efforts was the same.  The world is no safer today than it was in 1918 or 1963.  And thus my little tale.

Two Went to War

Private 1st Class Darrell Dunkle
long, long ago you went off to France.
You were going to fight a war, the Great War,
the last war, the war to end all war

You were so young, leaving university studies
sports and fraternities behind
Your friends cheered and clapped,
as you marched away to save the world

But instead you died in those foreign trenches.
In your grave now a hundred years,
do you think your death was worthwhile?
No, your death was for naught,
it did not end war or save the world.

For if it had, I would not have found,
an old man and his granddaughter dead.
Smelling like barbecued chicken,
faces cooked in a campfire,
bodies seasoned by our bullets.

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