I remember as a young boy, going out to play, I would sometimes see old Mr. Kimball, sitting on the steps of his porch, often reading the paper. World War II was in full swing so the newspapers and radios were avidly sought out for the latest news. Mr. Kimball was a fireman, and probably not even that old, but he seemed that way to me.
Sometimes, he would invite me to sit with him and we would talk about everything and nothing. I loved spending time with him because, he was the only grown up I knew that took the time to entertain the mind of a young boy.
In his front window hung a small flag. It had a red border surrounding a white field, upon which there were two blue stars. I was always curious about it, so I asked him what it was. He said “It's a Sons in Service flag. One star for each son serving. You remember my boys don't you?” I did of course. Chuck, the oldest, used to tease me, calling me a sissy to get a reaction. Bobby was a couple of years younger, and the bike I was riding once had been his.
Mr. Kimball went on to explain how Chuck was now in the Army and fighting in France. Bobby was in the Navy, aboard a ship somewhere in the Pacific. He didn't say it, but I'm sure he was worried about both, communications being what they were back then.
One day, when I was walking over to see him, I noticed that the flag had changed. It now carried one blue star, but the other one was gold. With the innocence that comes of being a child, I asked what the gold star meant. He quietly said “It means Chuck is coming home”, and without further comment, he turned and went in the house.
A couple of days later, I saw a hearse pull up to the Kimballs house, and four men carry a flag draped box up the porch steps. That is the moment the meaning of war came to a small boy. I knew Chuck was home.
He sits in a wheelchair pushed to the curb. The people around him move aside to assure he is able to see. His shrunken body a shell of what it used to be. His breathing labored, aided by the tube that extends from the oxygen tank attached to his chair. On his head, he sports a blue campaign cap with VFW stitched in gold. He is one of America's finest, come to pay his respects.
Behind him stands a younger woman who has guided him there. A daughter perhaps, fussing over him, adjusting the robe in his lap, assuring his comfort. He shows no resistance to the attention, but simply sits and waits.
In the distance drums are heard, soon to be joined by the sound of horns. A stirring march riffles over the crowd, and an electricity grips their senses. Soon the call of cadence is heard. The measured tramp of boots, perfectly in time with the music. It grows louder until at last, a military formation looms into view. Uniformed soldiers, marching in perfect rows, perfect columns, gleaming boots, ribboned chests, weapons at rest on their shoulders. The crowd stirs. Small flags are waved. Cheers erupt. Pride hangs thick in the air.
The color guard approaches. Banners held high, snapping in the breeze. Some spectators remove their caps while others cover their hearts. Children, hoisted to their fathers shoulders, clap in excitement.
The old man tugs at the woman's sleeve and motions for her to come closer. She leans down and listens as he speaks, then asks "are you sure"?. He nods his head. Walking to the front of the chair, she removes the robe and, grasping his outstretched hands, pulls him slowly to his feet, where he stands with her assistance. Those around him watch as the frail, stooped body, with some difficulty, stands more erect. They see the pain etched on his face, and the tear that escapes his eye as he offers a salute as the flag passes by.
Suddenly, the cadence count stops, and in it's place is heard a command . A command normally reserved for when passing a reviewing stand. "Company, eyes right" the guidon bearer bellows, and with that, he returns the aging veterans salute, a sign of respect for an old soldier. After all, it is his flag. It is his country. He bought them both many years ago.
Jan 10, 2012
Don’t judge that kid with her arms all scarred
Don’t brand that kid as bad
You never would have survived
If you had the life she had
So say a prayer and show you care
She’s paid more than her share of dues
Don’t put her down or say bad things
Until you’ve walked that mile in her shoes
Those who suffered in war earn respect
They are greeted like super stars
She came from a war you wouldn’t understand
On her arms, the battle scars
Her own home was the battle zone
The desperation, feeling all alone
A situation she felt no escape from
Then late at night the urges come
Innocence lost like a bad dream
No self respect, no self esteem
It is an ongoing battle to feel whole
You can see the beauty within her soul
Sometimes I pray for a Judgement day
You have no heart if you look away
Flashbacks come and the anger stirs
The guilt she carries isn’t hers
There is a need for justice long past due
A need for acceptance from me and you
With anger, despair and fear demanding
The child needs some understanding
In spite of all the tears she cried
There are still battle scars deep inside
The night shone for the full moon,
Sky brewing a coarse monsoon,
Bolted were windows, locked were doors,
The frequency of death frighteningly soared.
But who was this infant high upon the hill?
He denied the storm and just stood stone still,
Eyes shut like blinds and fingers dug into ground,
Felt he could move no muscle, for was sadly street bound.
Shutting his eyes, arms wrapped tight round
His skinny body, battered and browned
Praying for the sake of friends, family and all
However imaginary, he imagined them call
“Boy, come to us we love you most”
“Our love for you is bigger than the Canadian coast”
“Do not cry, remember our love”
Joining their gaze in the beyond above,
He softly mumbled a song to forget,
The once daily song that was always a duet,
Alone on that hill without any feel,
Of an afterlife he finally accepted, wasn’t real
Tears met the floor, now bathed in yellow light,
As lightning struck him too quick to fright,
Child lay on the floor, dismembered and black,
Though his mouth was smiling and his happiness had come back,
As re-joined with family, head held high,
He waved his tortured existence goodbye.
Hugging his mum and his dad the same,
Somehow put an end to the incessant rain,
The natives emerged from their homes, safe and sound,
The boy crying for happiness at the new life he had found.
Soul peering at his body, dead at age eleven,
Holding family’s hands they could finally pass on and join heaven.
The touch of their skin brought old emotion,
Parents who were torn betwixt war and devotion,
A child whom they gave their best shot,
By train to board and bomb to not.
The grave of the boy with the electric crown,
Who carried a burden he couldn’t live down,
Stood proud in the yard of cobbles and stones,
For everyone knew those were a heroes bones,
When you look into the sky on a stormy night,
Remind yourself of the boy’s plight.
As he is the clouds that damper weather,
Out to protect his town, children altogether,
He wanted a life for them around,
That didn’t consist of being mentally wound,
A life that he could never possess,
But he did not bathe in spiralling depress.
Life is sacred, upon that hill,
Those cobbles and stones bring great goodwill,
For the sun only shines on that grassy land,
Still holding marks of the boy’s humble hand,
Some say that the yearly rain,
Is him up above, the tears of a chain.
The chain of the tears shed on that night,
Of the fear and happiness’ conventional recite,
Up above, being tucked under the covers,
Is a little boy with an injury he recovers,
Mother kisses his head and says her goodnight,
Father over bed, comforting a nightmare fright.
Drifting off, the boy could hear,
A little rhyme to calm his fear,
“Boy, come to us we love you most”
“Our love for you is bigger than the Canadian coast”
“Do not cry remember our love-“
The young man rose slowly in his bed,
Opened his eyes and smiled as he said
Wading through flooded streets as hurricane rain poured
A man fell into the flow when sharp thunder roared
As a journalist reporting live from the scene
I saw lightning crack through the sky, heard the man scream
“Is he homeless?” I asked the emergency crew
The director shook his head; the answer he knew
“He lives in our park now, but served in Vietnam
He saved his entire unit from the Viet Cong.”
The team pulled him from the gutter to the shelter
I brought him tea, forgot I was a reporter
I asked why he’d screamed, his memory seemed hazy
“Did you hear the bombs drop?” asked Captain Bob Mazy
The emergency director took me aside
“We call him Crazy Mazy,” he did confide
He suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder
Can’t live with the lives he took following orders.”
When Hurricane Kate passed o’er the Gulf Coast
I’d seen much destruction, but remembered Mazy most
His story I broadcasted and vets contacted me
The donations poured in; so many gave freely
Soon we’d accumulated twenty-five grand
Just enough to buy Mazy an acre of land
Then people from his home state gathered one weekend
To build him a home, much effort they expended
Several social workers set up counseling services
To meet all his needs, everyone made concessions
Local stores gave him clothing, food, even a job
No longer “Crazy Mazy,” he was now just Bob
A gentle man who soon overcame all his fears
On Memorial Day, he was greeted by cheers
Accolades he’d never heard when he returned from Nam
But attitudes had changed and people’s hearts had warmed
Hello friend, Do you see that man on the corner by the street?
He is holding the cardboard saying "homeless and I need to eat."
If you're not too busy, come with me on a journey back to 1969.
It will help you to look past his appearence and beyond his homemade sign.
This is the 1960's, where they thrived on the American Dream.
The women were real ladies, or at least in public thats what it seems.
Today is High School graduation, So much happiness is in the air,
But, These young men have recieved papers, and Uncle Sam expects them there.
Do you recognize the bone structure of this boy standing on our right?
He is the one from the future corner, he was Valedictorian tonight.
So well dressed, and raised up right, his sweetheart by his side.
He has no reason to be fearful of the draft, he is filled with American Pride.
Fast foward, Just a few weeks, to him and his young new wife,
Kissing so passionately, pressing pause on their future, and their life.
He is dropped down in the jungle, amist the sounds of live fire.
He sees injured men being lifted out, as the SGT's on the wire.
Just a young boy of 19, he is scared beyond his witts,
Yet, he completes every mission he is given, he never quits.
He holds the hands of friends, who was cut down in their prime.
Yes, this is the same man, the one you wouldn't give a dime.
He arrives back home, in the year of 1972.
His tour earned him a purple heart, he took bullets for you.
once at home, he is expecting affection from his lover,
but, he has been gone for so long she already found another.
So at 21 years old, this veteran is now a man,
He drinks his memories away, everynight if he can.
He gave an eye, and two of the best friends he has ever known.
He never was told "thank you", and he has nothing to call his own.
If you pay close attention to the newspapers of '72
you will see in the protest, they blamed the drafted soilders too.
so here is this man, young, and broken, yet, still not ashamed.
He proudly answered the call, when the draft listed his name.
Only a fellow Veteran, could even try to understand,
That there are no surviving Vets, a part of them died in Vietnam.
When they returned they expected welcome parties and smiles.
Instead they were placed in a new war, but, it was their uniform on trial.
If you still feel the same as you did before our walk.
Go on about your day, forget about our talk.
But, if you have decided, you can look beyond his sign.
Maybe understand his pain, and give our hero a dime.
It was in July of 1945
And the USS Indianapolis
Had a crew of nearly 12 hundred alive
But a Japanese sub fired and did not miss
American sailors had completed their job
Delivering parts for the first atomic bomb
Some sank with the ship, others in the sea did bob
No food, few lifeboats, ocean deceptively calm
Surprise attack, no distress signal had been sent
It was four days later those floating were spotted
The survival rate was just 25 percent
With hundreds of sailors’ bodies the sea was dotted
In the movie “Jaws” as Captain Quint had related,
“The sharks came cruisin'. So we formed into tight groups.”
Six men per hour were killed while for help they waited
All were lost but 316 Navy troops
Some victims died of exposure or starvation
But far more were killed by the sharks that had attacked
These men lost their lives in service to our nation
But bomb parts delivered had a deadlier impact
One of the last ships that was sunk in World War II
The Indianapolis had turned the war’s tide
With a mission carried out by a courageous crew
Victory was soon celebrated by allies worldwide
This is an entry for the History Poems contest
They burst forth and charge downwards
Matching uniforms shiny against the grey sky
Their only desire to smash suicidally upon our ranks
We hear the thunder of them coming, and carefully prepare
The vanguard already lie smashed upon the ground
The rest will soon swell the regiments of the defeated
Moments before they arrive we deploy our umbrellas
Countless warriors smash harmlessly inches above our heads
Their watery remains dripping from our defences
Mingling with those of their already fallen brethren
Contest : FALL YOUR CHOICE any theme/any form max 12 lines
He composes talons as men walk into the fire
Twisted hatred inspired in fountains of meat
A self propelled corruption of delusion
Raining sheets of copper sparks
Blind knives open sand whipped architecture
Two breeds of darkness, light engulfed
Dystopian bred ignorance swallowing rage
Fluctuating temperaments shroud utopia
To the fighting men and women and to all military personnel,
I only want to wish for you safety and God keep you well.
We are proud of what you do and you are always in our thoughts and mind,
I am working on a weapon too that when you shoot someone with it they turn
from mean to kind.
My Mean To Kind (M.T.K.) weapon is nearly done.
I’m in a hurry so I can produce enough for everyone.
Just point my M.T.K. and zap them once or twice.
The more the zap the more the nice.
No more blood will either side ever let,
Maybe just an honest days worth of sweat.
How cool will that be to finally bury the grudge,
And sit down with your enemy over a hot chocolate sundae with fudge.
Instead of a hateful staring glare,
Just zap him once and end warfare.
Heck I may just zap myself again,
I’ll zap you too and you can be my friend.