Memorial Day by Francis Hamit
This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author's PRIOR consent
(The set, for all scenes, is the interior of a barroom in a small town
someplace in rural America. It is decorated a patriotic theme, with
military service honored along the wall stage left with many framed
photos and other memorabilia. This is not a VFW meeting hall, but has
some of the same ambiance. In the middle of all of the displays is a
large blank space where something was recently removed. The bar
angles along stage right wall, with plenty of room behind. Over the
bar is a large television with a smashed-in screen. There are stools
before the bar and several tables with chairs near the wall of
memorabilia. Between the bar and the wall is a door leading to the
outside. Another door far stage left leads to a kitchen which is
seldom used. Near that door is a large calendar for May 2004 to set
the time of the play in the audience's mind; ideally this is of the
Rigid Tool genre with an attractive, scantily clad young lady.
Someplace on the set is a sign that says "No Snowmobiling" which is
intended as humor by the owner.)
(The name of the place is Dewey's Drop Inn. As the lights come up,
the proprietor, DEWEY SLOCUM, is behind the bar, wiping it down. He
is nearly sixty years old, but very fit with a full head of hair and a
(RAY THOMAS, a man in his late 50s, enters center door. He is dressed
in a sports jacket, blue jeans and a tie, carrying an overstuffed
briefcase and a laptop computer.)
(He sees broken television, reacts)
Fox or CNN?
(after a long pause)
This is the third set this month. You are killing the messenger,
Yep. Insurance don't cover it any more. And there's not two hundred
dollars worth of satisfaction in breaking the damn thing.
So why do it?
This God-damned war! It's like the Army forgot every single thing we
learned in Vietnam about force protection. They can't even run a
decent convoy anymore.
Everyone who was in Vietnam has retired, Dewey.
(He goes over to a table and sets up his laptop, still talking)
Find me one of those generals who actually fought in that war. Tommy
Franks was the last, and he retired, got the hell out of Dodge before
the Occupation went sour. The guys there, now -- they're kids
compared to you and me.
Oh, that's a big help. I feel better already.
(There is a moment of silence as they stare at each other. They both
sigh and shake their heads. Ray changes the subject.)
So, did you read it?
Actually a long way from quite.
(his disappointment is obvious)
Maybe, Ray, you should ask someone else. Combat is hard to describe,
very surreal, and you've done a better job here than most I've read.
Maybe I'm just too mixed up about how I feel about it.
But you were there. You know what it was like!
(Dewey is suddenly angry)
Did it ever occur to you that I don't want to remember?
(A long pause as Ray starts to pack up his papers and computer)
I saw men who were as close to me as brothers shot down and blown up.
I killed men who still haunt my dreams.
Why would I want to remember that?
God, Dewey, I'm sorry. I thought you were past all that P.T.S.D.
stuff ... and you were the big war hero. I was just a clerk.
We lost guys too, you know. Not as many or as often, but it
(Dewey pours a shot of whisky and slides it across the bar)
Here, have one on the house. We'll drink to absent friends.
At eight in the morning? I can't. I've got my Freshman English this
(Dewey tosses off the shot himself)
Sorry. I forgot.
You really start this early?
What can I tell you, pal. Breakfast of champions, hair of the dog and
all that. At least I’m not taking those bad meds from the V.A.
You really put it away. Good thing you own a bar. (pause). Bad
Yep. Hey, I drink, but I am never drunk. Self medicating, Ray. So I
don’t become a zombie like those poor bastards in the Psych ward I
keep seeing on T.V.
(Ray looks at him doubtfully. and Dewey pours another shot and raises
it in a toast)
To absent friends.
Heard from our ex-wife lately?
Yeah. I think she's still trying to get up a protest for Memorial
Day, for the parade, against the Evil War in Iraq.
Well, good for her. Dirty job, but someone has to do it. I might
even give her a hand this time.
(Ray stops, very surprised)
Surely you jest.
Well, what kind of message does it send, with your own daughter over
there. Marci is nutso over this issue -- hates war with such passion
that none of them pass muster.
Yet she marries soldiers. Curious, isn't it?
That's to convince us that she hates the war, not the warrior.
Yep, that's the mantra now; we hate the war, but love the troops. At
least that much has changed.
Not like when we came home. No one spitting this time.
Never happened. Not to me anyway. I'd like to think that's one of
those, whatchayacallit, urban myths.
Maybe. But we both caught enough flak over being there. Me more than
Geez. Come on, man. Look at you. Medal of Honor, Silver Star, three
Purple Hearts. Even during the worst of the Vietnam years, that meant
something. No one would spit on you. Me, what have I got to show for
my year there -- an Army Commendation Medal, the so called Green
Weenie, and for what? Superior paperwork!
(tries to lighten the mood)
Yeah, but you was a R.E.M.F. I'd spit on those guys myself.
Rear Echelon Mother Fucker? Wasn't no such thing, my man. I plead
guilty only to the regular use of Dial soap. I may not have been in
the thick of it, a front-line troop like you. But we got mortared
every other night or so.
You had hot showers and all the comforts of home, refrigerator in your
hooch, maid service, even the maid if you wanted her.
But I was a bit more "gung ho". Volunteered rather than waited to be
drafted, like you. I would have traded all that in a heartbeat for
You know, the kinds of movies we all grew up with, all guts and glory.
The dream of every red-blooded American boy was to get his hands on
an automatic weapon and make like a garden hose.
(Makes a dismissive gesture)
Poor fire discipline.
So I wasn't an Eleven Bush. My fault for learning to type eighty
words a minute and ending up in the other ninety percent -- the clerks
and jerks, truck drivers, mechanics, cooks, and other working stiffs
who went in harm's way so you'd have the chance at being a big hero.
Some of them died too. Died ugly.
(Ray walks towards the memorabilia wall, obviously upset)
(A little pissed off)
We were all heroes. You got that?
Maybe you should write about that part of it, Ray. Tell your own
story instead of trying to tell mine.
(Ray is taken aback by the idea)
Naw. Sounds very boring, Dewey. Who would read it?
Yeah, but you and I are, in a very weird way, family. That doesn't
I didn't ask you to marry her, Ray. That was your idea.
She asked me and, in a moment of weakness, I agreed.
RAY (CONTINUED) (CONT’D)
You guys were over by then. I wasn't poaching.
No, I know. That was Taylor. Anyway, Marci is a law to herself,
almost her own country, she's so damned independent.
She had an affair with Taylor Deems?
Pure spite. She knows I hate that smooth son of a bitch. I went
through Basic with him and the rest of his frat boys buddies from the
(Ray suddenly looks at this watch)
Damn. Look at the time. I've got a class!
(He gathers up his papers and laptop computer and moves to the center
Keep writing. I'll read it. Look forward to it.
You heard from Jennifer?
Not this week. She's someplace west of Baghdad.
Major Jennifer Slocum. Marci must be so proud.
(They both laugh, but then Dewey is serious)
Actually I think she is. She won't admit it, of course.
That's a serious case of teenage rebellion. Your mother is this big
anti-war radical with a national rep, so you go to West Point and
become a lifer.
Wasn't my idea, man. Jennifer's a big girl now and goes her own way.
I couldn't have stopped her. God knows I tried. Look what
“defending freedom” bought me. Nightmares, exposure to Agent
Orange with nine kinds of cancer looming over my head like the Sword
of Damocles, and the thanks of an ungrateful nation. No yellow ribbons
for us, Ray, and no freaking parades. Now they want to pretend like
it never happened so they can suck a new generation of stupid kids
into fighting in a place where everybody hates us.
You’re a very bitter man.
And you’re not?
I Just hide it better. It’s still not something we talk about in
Academia. Gotta go.
Mind how you go.
(Ray exits. Dewey pours himself another shot as the lights fade to
NOTE: "ELEVEN BUSH" IS U.S. ARMY SLANG FOR THE 11B MOS (MILITARY
OCCUPATIONAL SPECIALTY): THE BASIC JOB DESCRIPTION FOR AN GENERAL
[End of Extract]