My favorite veteran, my husband, US Army Air Corps, World War II.
Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)
In a wood they call the Rouge Bouquet
There is a new-made grave to-day,
Built by never a spade nor pick
Yet covered with earth ten metres thick.
There lie many fighting men,
Dead in their youthful prime,
Never to laugh nor love again
Nor taste the Summertime.
For Death came flying through the air
And stopped his flight at the dugout stair,
Touched his prey and left them there,
Clay to clay.
He hid their bodies stealthily
In the soil of the land they fought to free
And fled away.
Now over the grave abrupt and clear
Three volleys ring;
And perhaps their brave young spirits hear
The bugle sing:
"Go to sleep!
Go to sleep!
Slumber well where the shell screamed and fell.
Let your rifles rest on the muddy floor,
You will not need them any more.
Now at last,
Go to sleep!"
There is on earth no worthier grave
To hold the bodies of the brave
Than this place of pain and pride
Where they nobly fought and nobly died.
Never fear but in the skies
Saints and angels stand
Smiling with their holy eyes
On this new-come band.
St. Michael's sword darts through the air
And touches the aureole on his hair
As he sees them stand saluting there,
His stalwart sons;
And Patrick, Brigid, Columkill
Rejoice that in veins of warriors still
The Gael's blood runs.
And up to Heaven's doorway floats,
From the wood called Rouge Bouquet,
A delicate cloud of buglenotes
That softly say:
Comrades true, born anew, peace to you!
Your souls shall be where the heroes are
And your memory shine like the morning-star.
Brave and dear,
Shield us here.
My dad was a Marine, and like most Marines, darned proud of it. Although he'd received his honorable discharge from the Marine Corps before he married my mother and my siblings and I were born, he made sure we knew he was proud to be a Marine. We'd make pilgrimages to southern California to see Camp Pendleton, San Diego, and Oceanside, all places in his heart, and he lived all of the rest of his 48 years buttressed by the order and training of the USMC.
My father, a corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps, stationed at Camp Pendleton, California, early 1950's.
My husband enlisted in the Army Air Corps when he was only 20 while away at college in Minnesota, and reported to Jefferson Barracks, Missouri (boot camp), then went to Michigan State University, San Antonio, Texas (pre-flight), Yukon, Enid and Altus, Oklahoma (primary training), back to Knobnoster, Missouri (transitional training), and Fort Wayne, Indiana, before flying his own aircraft over the northern route to Europe, where he was stationed in England and France. At the end of the war in Europe, after helping liberate prisoners of war and transporting them to the French Riviera, he was able to pilot that same aircraft back the southern route. While in California on leave awaiting deployment to the Pacific, the war ended.
My husband, a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps, World War II, stationed in England and France, C-47 pilot, with his plane, Damn Yankee.
Our oldest grandson finished his undergraduate degree at Alfred University in upstate New York, then went on to get a Masters in Business Administration from Xavier University in Ohio before deciding to follow in the footsteps of his father, a retired colonel, and join the Army. Earlier this year he completed his airborne training.
My oldest grandson, a first lieutenant in the 10th Mountain Division, U.S. Army Rangers, Fort Drum (NY) and Fort Benning (GA), in the middle of his second tour of duty, the first to Iraq.
I'm enormously proud of all three of these men in my life, the Marine who gave me life, the World War II pilot who married me, and the Army Ranger who has gone off to defend his country. On this day when we remember our veterans, their service and their sacrifice, I honor them.
See these articles for more on my soldiers, my heroes:Holding a Soldier Close