November 10th and 11th, have always been special to me for a couple of reasons. First, on this day in 1775 my beloved U. S. Marine Corps was founded at Tun’s Tavern in Philadelphia (somehow or another the Corps being born in a
tavern seems appropriate) and November 11 is a day when we remember our veterans. Memorial day is a day when we remember (or at least we should) those who gave their lives for our country. November 11 on the other hand is a day for all veterans to be remembered. For many years I ignored Veterans Day. I still had a bad taste in my mouth from the way those of us who served in the Vietnam War were treated upon our return. I recently watched Ken Burns hopelessly inaccurate depiction of what the war was about and how we who fought it conducted ourselves (well, that’s a subject for another day.) which opened a number of emotions I thought I’d buried long ago.
A VETERAN DIED TODAY
He was getting old and paunchy, and his health was failing fast.
And he sat around the Legion, telling of his past.
Of the war that he had fought in. Of the deeds he had done.
Of the exploits with his buddies. They were heroes, every one.
Though,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 old Bill has passed away.
And the world’s a little poorer, for a Veteran died today.
No,he wasn’t 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’ though a Veteran died today.
When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state.
While thousands note their passing, proclaiming they were great.
The papers tell their life stories, from the time that they were young.
But the passing of a Veteran, goes unnoticed and unsung.
Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of this land,
Some jerk who breaks his promise,and cons his fellow man?
Or the ordinary fellow, who in time of war and strife,
Goes off to serve country. And offers up his life.
The politician’s stipend, and the style in which they live.
Are sometimes disproportionate, to the service that they give.
While the ordinary Veteran, who offered up his all
Is paid off with a medal and perhaps a pension small
Its so easy to forget, for it was so long ago.
That our Bobs and Jims went to battle, but we know.
It was not the politician, with his compromise and ploy,
Who won for us this freedom that our citizens enjoy.
Should you find yourself in danger, with your enemies at hand.
Would you really want some cop-out, with his ever waffling hand.
Or would you want a veteran, who has sworn to defend
His home, his kin and his country and fight until the end?
He’s just a common veteran and his ranks are growing thin.
But his presence should remind us we may need his like again.
For when countries are in conflict, we find the Veteran’s part
Is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start.
If we cannot do him honor, while he’s alive to hear the praise.
Then at least let’s give him homage at the ending of his days
Perhaps a simple headline in the paper that might say
“Pay honor to this hero, for a Veteran died today”.
Thank you for your service, Vaughn.
Thank you for the reminder, Vaughn.
Thank you, Vaughn. Remembering and this brought tears..
Excellent post. I’ve shared it on Facebook.
Thank you all. I had the honor of attending a Veteran’s Day Assembly at a local grade school. I’m not afraid to admit it brought tears to my eyes…the fact that adults are instilling a respect for the men and women who served makes me believe that through it all there is hope for our future generations.
I always think of my deceased father-in-law on Veteran’s Day, not to mention a lot of other times during the year. The veteran honored in your poem reminds me of him, a tough kid who grew up poor on Munjoy Hill in Portland and served on a LST craft in the Pacific in WW II taking marines via landing craft onto islands to fight the Japanese. He never spoke of his own bravery, only that of the marines wading into the jungles. He escaped many close calls, like the Kamikaze plane that hit his ship and killed 157 shipmates, some of the 55,000 (if I recall correctly) Navy dead honored in the chilling black marble memorial near Diamond Head and USS Arizona memorial in Hawaii that I visited many years ago. He lived a life similar to that of the veteran in your poem, greatly respected by family and all who knew him as a family man who instilled positive values in his children and grandchildren, which gives me the hope for future generations you mention..
Your father-in-law sounds like many of that generation. Thanks for telling me about him.