Do you think of Pomp and
, of the dozen

or so steps first generation
      college students take to ascend

the stage and receive a roll of paper
      standing for their diploma, as all

their relatives on the sidelines cheer? Who
      thinks of Wagner’s Lohengrin, the trumpet

chorus before the newlyweds enter the bridal
      chamber? In the 1915 Armenian genocide,

thousands of women and children were forced
      to march across the Syrian desert, and in 1945

more than a hundred thousand prisoners
      led to Stutthof and Auschwitz. Just three

years before, my father as a young man joined
      thousands in the Bataan Death March; I don’t know

how or where on the road to San Fernando he lost
     the nail on his pinky finger, but he bore

that scar until the end of his days. And I was still
     in diapers when more than two hundred thousand

joined Martin Luther King at the Lincoln Memorial
     where he spoke of our dream. When I think of an exodus

of people fleeing bombs and wars and burning villages,
     I don’t want to think of the helicopter scene in Miss

Saigon, or of phalanxes of solders goose-stepping
     in front of a little man who wants a dress parade

complete with stiff salutes to make him feel he is
     adored instead of reviled. After the three

wise men paid Herod a visit, he carried out the Massacre
     of the Innocents. Then as now, we grieve for the weakest

and smallest sacrificed: the ones who walk until they
     can walk no more, who die of trauma and starvation.


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