On Feb. 27, the Pentagon lifted the ban on media coverage of returning flag-draped coffins. A week later, I wrote that you seldom hear of the wars nor see media coverage of local funerals. The same impassiveness will happen when the media has its fill of flag-draped coffins at Dover.
On April 5, the remains of Staff Sgt. Phillip Myers arrived at Dover Air Force Base, the first such ceremony open to the public in 18 years. Forty members of the media recorded that event for national viewing. Now our fallen are fortunate if any media are present. As predicted, the cameras are no longer there, but those ceremonies keep repeating as witnessed through the eyes of loved ones. I dedicate this poem to them.
My Son Who Came Home Today
Oh, what protocol everything in its place.
Sharp, clean, symmetrical, that military pace.
Like a caring grieving neighbor, the gentle winds cool the tarmac
As I await scanning the sky for that silver chauffeur
Who’s carrying my son, who’s coming home today.
Then suddenly, like a ray of sunlight bursting through the clouds,
There’s that glistening eagle,
Now descending, descending towards me.
This vision it inspires as my eyes start to swell
Yet, I remain unbowed and gaze with pride,
For at last, my son’s coming home today.
The life of a military defender
Was his compelling personal goal.
This child of mine, this man among men,
Decorated and admired,
Is coming home.
I am here now as I was before.
Every furlough, every pass, never was ignored.
I was there to meet him, always there to meet him
With anticipation, happiness and love.
Now others share my duty waiting with a firm intent
To greet my son, my son who’s coming home today.
Plane and passenger alight.
The mammoth of the sky opens its cavernous vault.
There in patriotic splendor, silent and unmoving,
Stately and forbearing, adorned and manicured,
Sharp, clean, symmetrical – awaits my son and others.
Heartbreakingly, the first movement of finality begins.
Eight uniformed comrades from land, sea and air
Reach out to grasp the handle to secure that within.
Then with painful precision, with that military pace
They don’t disturb the flag that has my son in its embrace.
They release the precious cargo from the Eagles mighty talons
Then slowly salute, an American, a flag, a country,
And my son who came home today.