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American Veterans

The Literary Page

A Soldier Died Today

He was getting old and paunchy,
And his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion,
Telling stories of the past.

Of a war that he had fought in,
And the deeds that he had done.
In his exploits with his buddies;
They were heroes, everyone.

And 'tho sometimes, to his neighbors,
his tales became a joke.
All his buddies listened,
For they knew whereof he spoke.

But we'll hear his tales no longer,
For ol' Bob has passed away,
And the world's a little poorer,
For a soldier died today.

He won't be mourned by many,
Just his children and his wife.
For he lived an ordinary...
Very quiet sort of life.

He held a job and raised a family,
Quietly going on his way.
And the world won't note his passing,
'Tho a soldier died today.

When the politicians leave this earth,
Their bodies lie in state.
While thousands note their passing,
And proclaim that they were great.

Papers tell of their life stories,
From the time that they were young.
But the passing of a soldier,
Goes unnoticed, and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution,
To the welfare of our land,
Some jerk who breaks his promise,
And cons his fellow man?

Or the ordinary fellow,
Who in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his Country...
And offers up his life?

The politician's stipend,
And the style in which he lives,
Are sometimes disproportionate,
To the service he gives.

While the ordinary soldier,
Who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal,
And perhaps a pension...small.

It's so easy to forget them,
For it is so long ago,
That our Bob's and Jim's and Johnny's,
Went to battle, but we know.

It was not the politicians,
With their compromise and ploys;
Who won for us the freedom,
That our Country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger,
With your enemies at hand;
Would you really want some cop-out,
With his ever waffling stand?

Or would you want a Soldier,
Who has sworn to defend,
His home, his kin and Country,
And would fight until the end?

He was just a common Soldier,
And his ranks are growing thin.
But his presence should remind us,
We may need his like again.

For when countries are in conflict,
Then we find the Soldier's part,
Is to clean up all the troubles,
That the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honor,
While he's here to hear the praise.
Then at least let's give him homage,
At the ending of his days.

Perhaps just a simple headline,
In the paper that might say,


There he stands in camouflage...yet he cannot hide from you.
You can pick him out in a crowd, and can eye his stride among a formation.

There he goes, away from you again, off to do his part and be his best,
leaving you in his wake-- never "behind," yet always longing for his

There you are, amidst boxes and paper and confusion, creating a home,
designing a household, transforming a building into a loving, nurturing,
comfortable environment.

Memories will be made here.
Events will be celebrated.
Children will be born, graduate, grow, change.
Your family will evolve.
Your love will increase.
Your marriage will improve.
And you will then be asked to leave it all...again.

There are those who do not understand...
Who cannot comprehend, what it takes to fulfill your role, to fill your
shoes, to be all that you need to be.

They marvel at times.
Criticize at others.
Seldom appreciate.
Cannot imagine.

There are those moments, when you are where they are. When you marvel,
criticize, lack comprehension, and are unable to muster understanding.

And then he appears at the door, or on the phone, or through a rumpled
addressed to "my love" and suddenly there is comprehension, and
understanding, affirmation and conviction.

For by his presence, through his voice, in his message you KNOW that you've
been beckoned to a noble calling, when asked to be a military spouse.
Invited to support a soldier who allows freedom, who guards democracy, who
instills leadership.

And in your role you see a slice of life that few others have the
to experience...
flags appear more brilliant to you...
parades draw out more emotion for you...
a patriotic song is a musical message played just for you...
hand-over-the-heart is as stirring as an embrace for you...
a parting kiss can hold you for months...
a welcome-back embrace can fill you up from lonely months...
a grave marker is a stark reminder of the meaning of devotion...
a tear shared is a stark statement on the meaning of sacrifice...
a duffel bag on a baggage claim gives you pause and connection...
an eagle's soar gives you inspiration.

There you are...
The military spouse.
The one asked to be strong.
The one willing to belong.
The one who is often required to do it all.
The very one who is privileged to stand beside a true American -- day in
and day out.

How God has blessed us.
How He has rewarded us.
There are military spouses around the world, beside soldiers, airmen,
marines and sailors. They share a bond, a unity and a duty-to be there,
always for their hero.

There are no better...anywhere.

- unknown

Contributed by:
lauratealeaf on May 21, 2000


All of us warriors have ghosts that come in the night, spirits passing,
who whisper things that evoke feelings that can bring back a sound,
sight, smell or touch that we have not experienced for years.

They whisper. Sometimes we hear and remember.

- Doc

Contributed by:
Nicksog on December 25, 2000

Victory’s Call

Victory smiles for those who see
There are heroes near - stand tall
She watches those who would be free
There are heroes near - stand tall

Some will fight for Victory's grace
There are heroes near - stand tall
Some will gaze on Victory's face
There are heroes near - stand tall

Though tired and drawn they struggle through
There are heroes near - stand tall
They stood the test and Victory, knew
There are heroes near - stand tall

And though they change we still can see
There are heroes near - stand tall
That these define our Victory
There are heroes Here - Stand Tall

- Col. Robert R. Donoho, 2 April, 2000 V CORPS Warfighter

Contributed by:
lauratealeaf on May 22, 2000

Memorial Day

Dedicated to my uncle, S/SGT John R Hand who served with the 47th Infantry 9th Division during WWII. He won the Silver Star posthumously for attacking an enemy forward observation post and taking out three Germans. He was returning to his buddies when he was killed by an airburst on June 15th 1944. He is buried in the St. Laurent-sur-mer Cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach in Colleville, France. (This is the same beach featured in "Saving Private Ryan" )

The waves in The Channel are awfully rough
(A three day weekend? Well, sure enough!)

We're seasick & scared in our Higgins boat
(I can't wait for Monday to buy a new coat)
I landed at Omaha and watched my buddies fall
(I hear they're having a sale at the Mall)

The tide ran red at Normandy's shore
(Gonna shop til we drop at every store)
We were cut to pieces in the Vierville draw
(You can't believe the ads that I saw)

My good friend John got hit in the face
(I just can't find a damn parking space)
We crawled on our bellies to gain a few yards
(I’m so glad that I have my credit cards)

Hope my Ranger buddies got up Point Du Hoc
(This line is going all around the block)
Months went by, and our guys got killed
(We're the greatest shoppers ever billed!)

I was freezing in a foxhole in The Ardennes
(Look at this...they're open 'til 10!)
We're so tired and cold out here in Bastogne
(I wish the sales people would leave me alone)

I was at Remagen when we crossed the Rhine
(Let's meet at The Food Court at half past 9)
I saw my best friend get crushed by a tank
(I have to get more money out of the bank)

I'd give anything for a nice hot shower
(C'mon and let's play some games for an hour)
I wonder if anyone will remember this war
(I'll meet you guys at the Video Store)

The War is over and all of it's Hell
(Doesn't perfume have a wonderful smell?)
I'm on my way back home to The USA
(Boy, I'm glad we had so much fun today!)

It's been many years since Normandy Beach
(I want those shoes, just out of my reach)
I'm an old man now and I cried today
(WOW! What great fun...Memorial Day!!!)

- Gary White, May 29, 2000

Contributed by:
Bangalore on May 29, 2000 at 9:55 PM EST

dedicated to my Friend, Brother, and Comrade-in-Arms
SP/5 Bradford Racey
Crew Chief 129th A.H.C. UH-1B Call Sign COBRA'S
KIA over the skies of Cambodia 4/70

“You have not been forgotten”

SP/5 Barry Winkler
Door Gunner 129th A.H.C. 3/97

Dad, what was the worst thing you saw in Vietnam?

I have two sons, ages ten and four, and in time they will ask me this question.

I could tell them;
I was a door gunner on a helicopter gun ship with the 129th A.H.C. unit name COBRA. I was stationed in
An Son. I went over with an M.O.S. of sheet metal repairman. I worked on repairing damaged helicopters.
I wanted to do more, so I volunteered to be a door gunner. I was assigned to the Cobras, it's what I wanted.

Dad, what was the worst thing you saw in Vietnam?

I could tell them;
The day I was called out on an ASAP flight to assist a company of Grunts in the field being transported in A.P.C.'s
under a mortar attack. Upon our arrival, I saw the trail A.P.C. on fire, it's obvious that it was hit by a mortar.
Four or five grunts exiting from the rear, one on fire, one crawling out without his legs, one walking out without
his left arm, the other two were o.k., it seems. We flew up to the lead A.P.C. It was also hit and on fire but no
one was coming out. Then our lead gun ship was hit with small arms fire from the ground, the peter pilot was hit.
They had to leave, enroute to the hospital. It left us to cover the Grunts, one ship, we flew low and fast firing
everything we had. We called out for a second Cobra ASAP.
We were it until a ship could get to our location to assist.

Dad, what was the worst thing you saw in Vietnam?

I could tell them;
About how beautiful Vietnam was and how the war was killing the country.

But that was not the worst thing I saw.

I could tell them;
That on that day while protecting the Grunts on the ground, I was firing at anything that moved or just plain anything.

I could tell them;
That we were trying to keep Charlie's head down while the Medivac chopper went in to get the wounded Grunts out,
and in doing so I probably killed some people.

Dad, what was the worst thing you saw in Vietnam?

I could tell them;
About the people of Vietnam. How they just wanted to be left alone and work their land and just didn't care about the war.

But that's still not the worst thing I saw.

Dad, what was the worst thing you saw in Vietnam?

I could tell them;
About the kids their age eating out of garbage cans and eating food days old with maggots in it.
Food spoiled from sitting in the hot sun. Or that these kids ate the spoiled food because they had no food
to eat for days and when you're that hungry you'll eat anything.

Dad, what was the worst thing you saw in Vietnam?

I could tell them;
About the kids their age lying on the roadside dead, from a bullet fired from an M-16 or AK-47.
Didn't matter who fired the gun, our side or their side, the kids were dead.

But, again, that was not the worst thing I saw in Vietnam.

Dad, what was the worst thing you saw in Vietnam?

I could tell them;
About the many missions I flew in Vietnam and how many people I killed or saved on each mission,
seen or unseen or how much destruction I helped cause. But, again, that was not the worst I'd seen.

Dad, what was the worst thing you saw in Vietnam?

I guess I would have to tell them it was me.
Because one morning I looked into a mirror and I couldn't see me anymore. What I saw in the mirror
years later was a young man who had lost his feelings for life. The joy of being alive and the joy of everything
around him.I sit at times and watch other people and I watch the joy they get from doing and seeing simple things
around them, where I don't feel. I've lost it somewhere in Vietnam, my ability to get enjoyment out of things
or to care as I know I should. I feel I've lost the ability to care.

I won't let myself look too far forward into the future because death and disappointment lay just around the corner
and death and disappointment hurts. I did a lifetime of hurting in Vietnam. Seeing friends get shot or killed.

So I'd have to answer my sons' question of, Dad, what was the worst thing you saw in Vietnam?


Barry Winkler
Vice President
Vietnam Veterans of America
Martha Raye Chapter 541
Putnam & Dutchess Counties, New York

Contributed by:
Shenandoah on May 21, 2000

Lt. Audie Murphy

Here Freedom Flies In Your Heart Like An Eagle

Dusty old helmet, rusty old gun,
They sit in the corner and wait -
Two souvenirs of the Second World War
That have withstood the time, and the hate.

Mute witness to a time of much trouble.
Where kill or be killed was the law -
Were these implements used with high honor?
What was the glory they saw?

Many times I've wanted to ask them -
And now that we're here all alone,
Relics all three of a long ago war -
Where has freedom gone?

Freedom flies in your heart like an eagle.
Let it soar with the winds high above
Among the spirits of soldiers now sleeping,
Guard it with care and with love.

I salute my old friends in the corner,
I agree with all they have said -
And if the moment of truth comes tomorrow,
I'll be free, or By God, I'll be dead!

Audie Murphy
Medal of Honor recipient and most decorated soldier of WWII

Contributed by:
Mopes on May 29, 2000 at 5:36 PM EST

The Soldier

It is the soldier,
Not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press.

It is the soldier,
Not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the soldier,
Not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.

It is the soldier,
Not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.

- Charles M. Province

Contributed by:
Shenandoah on May 23, 2000

A Combat Infantryman’s Prayer

Look God, I have never spoken to you
But now, I want to say, “How do you do”
You see, God, they told me you didn’t exist
And like a fool – I believed all of this.

Last night from a shell hole I saw your sky,
I figured right then they had told me a lie.
Had I taken time to see the things you made,
I’d known they weren’t calling a spade a spade.
I wonder, God, If you’d shake my hand?
Somehow – I feel that you will understand.

Funny, I had to come to this hellish place
Before I had the time to see your face.

Well, I guess there isn’t much more to say
But I am sure glad, God, I met you today.

But I’m not afraid since I know you’re near.
I guess the “Zero Hour” will soon be here.

The signal – Well God, I’ll have to go
I like you lots, This I want you to know.

Look, now – this will be a horrible flight
Who knows – I may come to your house tonight,
Though I wasn’t friendly with you before,
I wonder, God, if you’d wait at your Door?

Look – I’m crying! Me! Shedding tears!
I wish I’d known you these many years.

Well, I will have to go now, God – good-bye.
Strange – since I met you I’m not afraid to die.

- Normandy: Found on the body of a fallen American Soldier

This was given to every Officer Candidate at the Infantry School at Fort Benning, before we went to 'Nam. I've never forgotten it. I still have my original copy; frayed, yellowed and stained.
Posted by:
Eagle1, on May 29, 2000 at 7:27 AM EST

Eulogy for a Veteran

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the Gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight,
I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die.

~Author Unknown

Posted by:
mthead, on May 29, 2000 at 10:37 AM EST

A Soldier's Christmas

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
my daughter beside me, angelic in rest.

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree, I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep
in perfect contentment, or so it would seem.
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eye when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
and I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

"What are you doing?" I asked without fear
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts,
to the window that danced with a warm fire's light
then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night"

"Its my duty to stand at the front of the line,
that separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.

My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.

I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red white and blue... an American flag.

"I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home,
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat,
I can carry the weight of killing another
or lay down my life with my sisters and brothers
who stand at the front against any and all,
to insure for all time that this flag will not fall."

"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone.
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.

For when we come home, either standing or dead,
to know you remember we fought and we bled
is payment enough, and with that we will trust.
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.

by Michael Marks

Posted on Dec 20, 2001 at 6:20 PM EST

A Soldier's Night Before Christmas

T’was the night before Christmas,
He lived all alone,
In a one bedroom house made of
Plaster and stone.

I had come down the chimney,
With presents to give,
And to see just who,
In this home did live.

I looked all about,
A strange sight did I see,
No tinsel, no presents,
Not even a tree.

No stocking by mantle,
Just boots filled with sand,
On the wall hung pictures,
Of far distant lands.

With medals and badges,
Awards of all kinds,
A sober thought
Came through my mind.

For this house was different,
It was dark and dreary,
I found the home of a soldier,
Once I could see clearly.

The soldier lay sleeping,
Silent, alone,
Curled up on the floor,
In this one bedroom home.

The face was so gentle,
The room in such disorder,
Not how I pictured,
A United States Soldier.

Was this the hero,
Of whom I’d just read?
Curled up on a poncho,
The floor for a bed?

I realized the families,
That I saw this night,
Owed their lives to these soldiers,
Who were willing to fight.

Soon ‘round the world,
The children would play,
And grownups would celebrate,
A bright Christmas Day.

They all enjoyed Freedom,
Each month of the year,
Because of the Soldiers,
Like the one lying here.

I couldn’t help wonder,
How many lay alone,
On a cold Christmas Eve,
In a land far from home.

The very thought,
Brought a tear to my eye,
I dropped to my knees,
And I started to cry.

The soldier awoke,
And I heard a rough voice,
“Santa, don’t cry,
This life is my choice.”

“I fight for Freedom,
I don’t ask anymore,
My life is my God,
My Country, My Corps.”

The soldier rolled over,
And drifted to sleep,
I couldn’t control it,
I continued to weep.

I kept watch for hours,
So silent and still,
And we both shivered,
From the cold night’s chill.

I didn’t want to leave,
On that cold, dark night,
This guardian of Honor,
So willing to fight.

Then the Soldier rolled over,
And with a voice soft and pure,
Whispered, “Carry on, Santa,
It’s Christmas Day, all is secure."

One look at my watch,
And I knew he was right,

“Merry Christmas, my friend,
And to all a Good Night!”

- by Major Bruce W. Lovely

Contributed by:
Marine, on Dec 16, 2000 at 08:23 AM EST


I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!

- Rudyard Kipling

Contributed by:
Old Hawg, on Oct 16, 2001 at 15:01 PM EST

The Night We Gunned Down Santa Claus

It started off right, just another night,
You had to spend in the dirt.
Security was out, 360 about
With fifty percent alert.

We had 81s and naval guns.
Our tanks were track to track.
An ontos or so, an arty fo'
With barrages back to back.

I froze where I stood, 'cause out of the wood,
Eight horses came charging along.
This may sound corny, but those mustangs were horny,
My God, I thought, mounted Viet Cong.

He was coming our way in what looked like a sleigh,
You never know what they will use.
Our flares were tripped; our SIDS had flipped,
Our Tipsy's blew a fuse.

We let him get close, then yelled, "Who goes?"
Like they do in the movie show.
The answer we got, believe it or not,
Was a hearty, "Ho, Ho, Ho".

Now these troops of mine have seen some time,
They've done some things back-assward.
They may be thick, but I'll tell you a trick,
They knew that wasn't the password.

The nineties roared, the 81s soared,
The naval guns raised all hell.
A bright red flare flew through the air,
We fired our FPL.

I'll give him guts, but that man was nuts,
Or I'm a no good liar,
He dropped like a stone in our killing zone,
I passed the word, "Cease fire".

I went out and took a real good look,
My memory started to race;
My mind plays games when it comes to names,
But I never forget a face.

He was dressed in red, and he looked well fed,
Older than most I'd seen.
He looked right weird with that long white beard,
And stumps where his legs had been.

He hadn't quite died when I reached his side,
But the end was clearly in sight,
I knelt down low and he said real slow,
"Merry Christmas, and to all a good night."

Now we should have known our cools were blown,
When that light in the east we had seen.
I thought it was flares, and it had to be theirs,
Or the damned things would have been green.

I picked up the hook and with a voice that shook,
I said, "Gimme the six, quick."
"Colonel", I said, "Hang onto your head,
We just greased old Saint Nick."

Now the old man's cool, he's nobody's fool,
Right off he knew the word.
If this word got out, there'd be no doubt,
He wouldn't be making his bird.

"Just get him up here and we'll play it by ear,
Make sure he's got a tag;
Dismantle the sleigh; drive those reindeer away,
And bury that big red bag."

Now by and by the kids may cry,
Cause nothing's under the tree;
But the word came back from the FMFPAC,
That Santa had gone VC.

There's strange things done 'neath the Vietnamese sun,
But the time that locked my jaws,
Was the night 'neath the moon, when the third platoon
Gunned down Santa Claus.

- The 3rd Marine Division

Contributed by:
Nicksog, on November 30, 2001 at 10:13 PM

The Other Side of the Wall

Reflections by Lee Teter

At first there was no place for us to go until someone put up that BLACK GRANITE WALL. Now, everyday and night, my Brothers and my
Sisters wait to see the many people from places afar file in front of this Wall. Many stopping briefly and many for hours and some that
come on a regular basis. It was hard at first, not that it's gotten any easier, but it seems that many of the attitudes towards that war that we were involved in have changed. I can only pray that the ones on the other side have learned something and more Walls as this one needn't be built.
Several members of my unit and many that I did not recognize have called me to the Wall by touching my name that is engraved upon it.
The tears aren't necessary but are hard even for me to hold back.
Don't feel guilty for not being with me, my Brothers. This was my destiny as
it is yours, to be on that side of the Wall.
Touch the Wall,
my Brothers, so that we can share in the memories that we had. I have learned to put the bad memories aside and
remember only the pleasant times that we had together. Tell our other Brothers out there to come and visit me, not to say Good Bye but to
say Hello and be together again, even for a short time and to ease that
pain of loss that we all share.
an irresistable and loving call comes from the Wall. As I approach I can see an elderly lady and as I get closer I recognize her.
.......It's Momma! As much as I have looked forward to this day, I have also dreaded it because I didn't know what reaction I would
Next to her,
I suddenly see my wife and immediately think how hard it must have been for her to come to this place and my mind floods with the
pleasant memories of 30 years past. There's a young man in a military uniform standing with his arm around her......
My God!......
It' has to be my son. Look at him trying to be the man without a tear in
his eye. I yearn to tell him how proud I am, seeing him standing tall, straight
and proud in his uniform.
Momma comes closer and touches the Wall and I feel the soft and gentle touch I had not felt in so many years. Dad has crossed to
this side of the Wall and through our touch, I try to convey to her
that Dad is doing fine and is no longer suffering or feeling pain. I see my wife's courage building as she sees Momma touch the Wall and she
approaches and lays her hand on my waiting hand.
All the emotions,
feelings and memories of three decades past flash between our touch
and I tell her that it's alright. Carry on with your life and don't worry about me......
I can see as I look into her eyes that she hears and understands me and a big burden has been lifted from her.
I watch as they lay flowers and other memories of my past. My lucky
charm that was taken from me and sent to her by my CO, a tattered and worn teddy bear that I can barely remember having as I grew up as a
child and several medals that I had earned and were presented to my
wife. One of them is the Combat Infantry Badge that I am very proud
of and I notice that my son is also wearing this medal. I had earned mine in the jungles of Vietnam and he had probably earned his in the
deserts of Iraq.
I can tell that they are preparing to leave and I try to take a mental picture of them together, because I don't know when I will see them
I wouldn't blame them if they were not to return and can only thank them that I was not forgotten. My wife and Momma near the Wall
for one final touch and so many years of indecision, fear and sorrow are let go. As they turn to leave I feel my tears that had not flowed
for so many years, form as if dew drops on the other side of the Wall.
They slowly move away with only a glance over their shoulder. My son suddenly stops and slowly returns. He stands straight and proud
in front of me and snaps a salute. Something makes him move to the Wall and he puts his hand upon the Wall and touches my tears that had
formed on the face of the Wall and I can tell that he senses my presence there and the pride and the LOVE that I have for him. He
falls to his knees and the tears flow from his eyes and I try my best
to reassure him that it's alright and the tears do not make him any less
of a man. As he moves back
wiping the tears from his eyes, he silently mouths,
God Bless you, Dad....
God Bless YOU, Son......
We WILL meet
someday but in the meanwhile, go on your way......
There is no hurry.......
There is no hurry at all.
As I see them walk off in the distance,
I yell out to THEM and
EVERYONE there today, as loud as I can,.........
and as others on this side of the Wall join in, I notice that the US Flag that so proudly flys in front of us everyday,
is flapping and standing proudly straight out in the wind today..................................

- APVNV Pat (Beanie) Camunes, D/4/31 196th Lt Inf Bde, TayNinh 12/66-4/67 TamKy 4/67-12/67

The Veteran

Today I was reminded of
what time could not erase
As I walked through the halls I felt
a sadness in this place
A building filled with history
our books will never see
Their stories are the pages locked
inside their memory
It's one of many you will find
that's scattered everywhere
These people come here hoping to
receive the proper care
I saw a few in wheelchairs and
so many used a cane
Some walked just fine but in their eyes
was where I saw the pain
These Heroes have been marked for life
all here surrounding me
They've shed their blood while others died
to keep this country free
I still remember stories of
a war my Dad went through
Each one was told with Army Pride
he called it "World War II"
And later "The Korean War"
forced troops to say good-bye
Because Korea's North and South
could not see eye to eye
Then "Viet Nam" decided to
raise up it's ugly head
Like all the wars, the damage left
so many people dead
When troops came home they had to face
another kind of war
A "War of Words" that added wounds
as if they needed more
The latest war was televised
for all the world to see
Called "Operation Desert Storm"
performed so perfectly
This war had ended quickly
but our troops cannot forget
They're constantly reminded
that the "Storm" is not over yet
These wars do not discriminate
religion, sex or race
The bombs, grenades and poison gas
take lives we can't replace
And weapons don't have boundaries
they claim what's in their way
What will it take to stop these wars
right here, right now, today
Our troops are thought so highly of
when they are called to war
But when it's over they are not
remembered anymore
And what about the ones still lost
are they forgotten too?
Is anyone still searching for
the one's who fought for you
These men and women suffer more
than you will ever know
When war is over they still fight
a war that doesn't show
Each one deserves the very best
for what they have been through
Your proof is V. A. Hospitals
I'm sure there's one near you
We all want Peace and Harmony
but something's always wrong
These buildings might become extinct
if we could get along
My husband fought the last two wars
which stole the heart he had
He wears that look of war abuse
just like my precious Dad
I don't have all the answers but
I know one thing for sure
The anger has to leave before
a healing can occur
America is free because
of Veterans today
And more of them still yet to come
will also have to pay
So when you exercise your rights
remember why you can
You see, I can't forget because
I am The Veteran.

I Dedicate This To Every Veteran,
Past, Present and Future.

God Bless All Of Our Brave Men and Women,
Who Proudly Serve This Country.

- Freda H. Babinski, Feb. 9, 1997

Contributed by:
mthead, on November 13, 2000


It was a cold German winter in nineteen forty four
She was twelve years old and in the midst of world war
She didn't understand the, all important, lose or win
She was merely to be exposed to the cruelty of men
She was Jewish in decent and had to hide to survive
Her father was already taken and thought not to be alive
She and her mother fled to homes up in the hills
As the war machine kept moving and adding up the kills

Soon they were found and forced to board a train
Then separated from her mother, this was the beginning of her pain
Elise Roasch, now only known as seven seven three nine two four
The name she was given at birth, no one calls her that anymore
Marked like cattle the number was written on her arm
Such an innocent little child, who should have never come to harm
She was taken far away to a concentration camp
Given rotten food to eat and for warmth an oil lamp
With loneliness and abandon, she walked the wire looking for her Mom
She found beauty in a group of flowers and stopped to pick one
Her mother always said "If at anytime you feel alone...
...Pick yourself a flower, wrap it up and bring it home"
She tore a piece from her challis and wrapped it up with care
Then slipped it in her shoe so no one would know it's there
After three months passing and on the verge of death
This thirty one pound little girl, was gasping for every breath
One day when the snow was thick, she was taken down a hall
It was there that she found her mother, slumped against a wall
The two of them found such joy if only for a while
Until they were taken with the others into a room, single file
There were no windows there and the air was cold, thick and bad
The door was locked behind them and they lost what little freedom that they had
She held tightly to her mother and reached into her shoe
She pulled out the wrinkled fabric and said "Mama, this is for you"
As her mother reached for the gift, she pulled a smile from the face of gloom
And there was a love so bright that it filled the crowded room

About fifteen minutes later, the soldiers opened up the door
Only crumpled, lifeless bodies were laying on the floor
A solider had noticed a withered flower, half wrapped in fabric on the ground
Next to a woman holding a child, with arms still wrapped around
He hit his knees crying and shook with every tear
And remembered a memory that's been lost for many years
His mother once told him "If at anytime you feel alone...
...Pick yourself a flower, wrap it up and bring it home"

Forty years later, the solider returned to that site
And erected a stone, wanting to make a wrong, something right
He spent many years searching and found out the year before
The birth name given to seven seven three nine two four
The epitaph read "Forgive us Elise" and before he turned to walk away
He pulled from his pocket, something he had saved
A torn piece of clothing with an old flower still inside
After laying it on the stone, he hung his head and deeply cried

- Ellery R. Sheets

Contributed by:
ERS, on December 15, 2000

~~Missing Grandeur~~

I was too young to remember Vietnam but he wasn't, my friend
He was in the thick of it and even now his mind mends
I wasn't looking for the conversation, I didn't want to pry
But, he sparked my interest by saying "Nam is where I died"
He looked at me like a young pup and he wanted me to know the truth
About what he had to go through when I was just a youth
And he saw it in my eyes, how much I really wanted to know
So he began his story with "Vietnam was where I wanted to go"

"I was twenty at the time and I wanted to do my part"
"So I enlisted and still remember giving that oath with all my heart"
"My country said we need you and that was enough for me"
"Right then the only thing I wanted was to keep my Nation free"

His eyes sparkled as he finished what he said
With "We all had visions of grandeur running through our heads"
Then his eyes darkened and a gloom came over them
His mouth dried out and his breathing deepened then
He looked at me sternly with a look that lingers on
And his words still echo in me when he told me "We were wrong"
I told him I'd seen all the movies and the documentaries too
And he shook his head angrily and said "You still have no clue"
"Then what am I missing?" I asked "Tell me so I'll know"
He said "There are no words to describe that war and it's political show"
"But listen and I'll share what I have seen"
"I'll try to describe it, if I can, I mean"

He sipped a glass of water and put his hands over his face
As his hands slipped down slowly, he flashed back to that place
"We were regarded as new blood to those who had been there a while"
"And they laughed and pointed at us as we marched single file"
"They kept us at the camp for the first day or two"
"To kind of give us an idea of what we were to do"
"No mercy, we were told, kill them were they stand"
"So we can all go home and hear them strike up the band"

Then his face got somber and his eyes were watering a bit
"And on the third night we were told to grab our gear, this was it"
"Our first night on patrol and we were eager to find a fight"
"We wanted a taste of the action before the morning's light"
"The air was foul and thick and what we walked on wasn't ground"
"We had entered last night's ambush and God help us for what we found"
"It was then that fear hit us, we were not invulnerable anymore"
"We were walking on the bodies of those killed the night before"
"My hands got cold and clammy as I gripped my weapon tight"
"From that moment on I was not looking for a fight"
"I never heard the shot that knocked me to the ground"
"I reached up to my chest and warm blood is what I found"
"I didn't move at all as the gun fire began"
"I just laid there and watched as the other boys ran"
"I stretched out my arm hoping that one of them would see"
"And grab it as the ran by to pull me to safety"
"Roger grabbed me once and pulled me about ten feet"
"Until bullets pounded into him and him and death did meet"
"Tommy dragged me far enough to hide behind a tree"
"I still remember the look in his eyes as he was killed in front of me"
"I saw Mike running towards me to get me out of there"
"And just a second later, he disappeared into thin air"
"Patrick made it to me and for the moment I felt secure"
"Because Patrick was in his last week of his second tour"
"He looked really worried as the gun fire began to stop"
"I asked him if we could make it out, he said I hope you do... I'm badly shot"
"Patrick pulled Tommy's body and laid it over mine"
"Then a shot rang out that hit Patrick right between the eyes"
"His lifeless body fell and landed on top of me"
"Death covered me completely, so I bled there silently"
"I closed my eyes and prayed to God that the soldiers would go away"
"And in a pool of blood made by four of my friends is where I stayed until day"
"That was my first patrol of many more since then"
"Three of us made it out alive, out of twenty that went in"

I sat there motionless as he was trying not to think
And I saw him start to cry, pushing tears as he blinked

"I stayed there for two years and encountered a lot of the same"
"Funny thing is, when I got home, I wasn't allowed off the plane"
"The stewardess said I had to change out of uniform"
"She said over here I'll be fighting another kind of war"

I didn't know what I could say to him as he wiped away his tears
I couldn't even imagine what he went through in those years
To be part of so much death in the horror of human safari
I could only say, boy to man, "My God, I am so sorry"

- Ellery R. Sheets

Contributed by:
ERS, on December 15, 2000

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