Kudos to Mother Jones website and its daily “We’re still at war photo.” While Americans are in a shopping frenzy at the mall, four more U.S. military men were added to the 2,136 fallen in Afghanistan in our 11-year-old nightmare.
That’s 1,636 added deaths since I first wrote of the 500 fatalities in November 2003. I remember a news photo of an army corporal tearfully cradling his dying buddy. It inspired me to write:
My reason for enlisting is somewhere deep within.
If I had to testify, where would I begin?
A comforting quilt are we, of every hue and thread.
Of the military tradition to which we are wed.
A unit, a team, a new family,
E pluribus Unum a motto for me.
Our bickering belies what is a facade
In the heat of battle, it is us and our God.
Then it happens on a mournful day
A plea from a life that is ebbing away.
He was born a child in the arms of a mother.
He will die a man in the arms of a brother.
My comrade in arms, my battlefield buddy,
Now silent and still, heroic and bloody.
To let go of a hand of a sharing life.
Will haunt you forever like taps and fife.
Prayers may console they soothe and detach,
That horrible recall is a door with no latch.
Stardust of heroes in their finest hour.
Lying beneath a celestial shower.
But what of the spoils, the triumphs, the quest
When my battlefield buddy lies with the rest?
It will all be mute when the trumpets blow
History will wonder and my country will know,
That we were there in our own special way
Just like our ancestors we carried the day.
The guardians of time are nearing my door
Soon my being will be no more.
My country is grateful; I feel its compassion.
For a commoner’s life colorless and ashen.
I swore the oath when they called my name
From that day on I was never the same.
I have no regrets I would do it again,
For the military life was always my friend.
As I face the inevitable, my final call
I will never forget when I saw him fall.
How does one let go of a battlefield buddy,
Now silent and still, heroic and bloody?
Jerry Plantz lives in Lee’s Summit. His website is at www.Jerryplantz.com. Reach him at email@example.com.
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