Memorial Day 2017

A Marine at Vietnam Memorial on July 4 2002
A Marine at Vietnam Memorial on July 4 2002 By Meutia Chaerani – Indradi Soemardjan

Ever have an earworm? You know what I mean, a song running through your head that you can’t get out no matter how hard you try. Last year, just after Veterans Day, I had an earworm. Only a bit of the song, a plaintive voice singing a capella. After a few days of it driving me crazy, I’m going to share it with you this Memorial Day. Not because I want to drive you crazy too, but because this is where it belongs. It still makes me cry.

The Ballad of Penny Evans by the late, great Steve Goodman.

Oh my name is Penny Evans and my age is twenty-one
A young widow in the war that’s being fought in Viet Nam
And I have two infant daughters and I do the best I can
Now they say the war is over, but I think it’s just begun.

And I remember I was seventeen on the day I met young Bill
At his father’s grand piano, we’d play good old ‘Heart and Soul’
And I only knew the left hand part and he the right so well
And he’s the only boy I ever slept with and the only one I will.

It’s first we had a baby girl and we had two good years
And, it was next the 1A notice came and we parted without tears
And it was nine months from our last good night our second babe appears
And so it’s ten months and a telegram confirming all our fears.

And now every month I get a check from an Army bureaucrat
And it’s every month I tear it up and I mail the damn thing back.
Do you think that makes it all right, do you think I’d fall for that ?
And you can keep your bloody money, it sure won’t bring my Billy back.

I never cared for politics, and speeches I don’t understand,
And likewise never took no charity from any living man
But tonight there’s fifty thousand gone in that unhappy land
And fifty thousand ‘Heart and Soul’s’ being played with just one hand.

And my name is Penny Evans and I’ve just gone twenty-one
A young widow in the war that’s being fought in Viet Nam
And I have two infant daughters and I thank God I have no sons
Now they say the war is over, but I think it’s just begun.

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