“They Are The Patriots”

“They Are the Patriots”

by Haley Lee
2012 Young Authors of AZ Gold Key Winner and American Voices Medal Winner
School: BASIS Scottsdale in Scottsdale, AZ
Mentor teacher: Hadley Ruggles


Soldiers chasing savage beauty tear down the horizon with precision.
This is a crusade against compassion, against the old regime and a
fear of apology,
so raise your weapons.
Missiles kiss the skyline and we are done
in a flair of gunpowder and smoked horror.
Children holding hands with skyscrapers
scrape their mothers’ blood from the kitchen floor
and every night they wish for the bombs to stop falling so they can
start living.
Feet muddy,
hearts stained.

They are the patriots.

Land mines triggered by our greed
melt skin from bone,
slitting scars in the Earth deep as the Grand Canyon.
So much for the sanctity of human life.
Our fingers are stained like roses from the wounds of another
and a bleeding flag keeps a thousand caskets warm.
There are families trapped inside temples set ablaze
that turn to ash with their heads tilted toward the heavens.

They are the believers.

Continents are shaking.
Every time we vote for war, can you hear the pulse of the innocent?
It is the anthem of the forgotten,
the cry of the victim.

It is the sound of a shovel pounding out midnight funerals
inside a city that weeps for its fallen.
But for every shot fired we are digging our own graves.
Hide behind the pursuit of Justice,
but the terror of a life severed short cannot fit into a seven-letter excuse.
Our hate spans oceans and we are using virtue as a reason to kill.
Who handed you the right to judge?

A triplet, fencer and musician, Haley Lee is from Scottsdale,
Arizona. She wrote this piece after reflecting, in the post-9/11 era,
on her family history during WWII—her mother’s Polish and Austrian
family in German concentration camps and her paternal family’s
displacement after the Japanese invasion of China.