Veteran Poem

We came from farms and from factories.
And directly from high school football fields.
Eighteen and twenty-one years old –
Volunteers all.
Given by fathers
With pride in their chests and fear in their hearts
And by mothers with tears in their eyes.
And with the terror of gasping love,
We became blood brothers.
Fighting side by side,
Each the protector of the other-
Usually alone and surrounded.
Heroes everyone.
The elite of our Nation.
When our commitment to
Liberty and Freedom was accomplished-
One thousand two hundred and seventy four
came home with Purple Hearts-
Searching for love to ease the pain.
To offer apologies and
Eternal love to the
Five hundred and thirty nine
Who remained where
Final victory was met and accepted.
They, who live in God’s hands,
Are also alive within us.
In our minds and in our hearts-
they are forever young.
For they also
So loved the world.

From a Poem by Eugene A. Cook
Paraphrased and edited by George Shenkle