Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day!

I posted this back in November when I wrote it, but it's still appropriate for Memorial Day.  Considering the travesties my father's generation went through as they came back from Vietnam, I'm most thankful that America as a nation has gotten past hating those of us who are just doing our job and carrying out lawful orders.  

Thank you to everyone who served before me for preparing the way.

Applebee’s, November 11th
     Old warriors gather around
All five branches show out in style
     Stories of bravery abound
All old and gray, mostly white, mostly men
     This we’ve come to expect
Throw in a cane, gut, beard, or wheelchair
     But honor demands respect.

Still there’s nobody here I wanna mess with
     Under the banner “Free Entrée.”
“Thank you for serving,” America tells them,
     An attitude I hope never goes away.
For there was a time when some of them served,
     Fought and watched their buddies die
But when they came back to white America
     Some were not welcome inside

So it was, veterans of one Great War
     Were gathered like cattle later on
And soldiers, whose bullets no color did know
     Were promptly told to move along
And then came the wars that shouldn’t have been
     Though all of America said “Go,”
That when these warriors came in country again
     The answer had turned into “No.”

But there’s flags and streamers, ribbons and buttons,
     Post-9/11 all over again
“Thank you for serving,” America tells them –
     Let’s make sure they hear it again.
Though I may sit here among future veterans
     Laughing and carrying on
Tell me, tell me, who will take their place
     When these old soldiers fade on?

The looks in their eyes, the scars on their bodies,
     The memories they wear every day
There’s still not any of them I would mess with
      “Afternoon, sir,” is all I can say.
Now I don’t see them giving war glory
     They were just doing their job.
“Sorry, grandson, I am no hero,
     But I served in a company of.”

What matters today?  Job title?  Their hometown?
     Branch?  Medals?  Dates?  Ranks?
Or just that they gave what their country requested,
     Whether or not the country said, “Thanks.”
One day I know that I will be grayer
     My body won’t be what it’s been
And I’ll take my place among those old warriors
     But I’m at the kids’ table till then.

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