A Soldier‘s Prayer
“Hear My Prayer“
Please God, hear my prayer, I beg you on this day;
Look out for my little girls because I have to go away.
To a hot unfriendly land, I’m marching off to war;
The President says I’m needed on a distant shore.
Tell them dad’s got something important to do, our country‘s issued its call.
I’ve got to make sure our troops get what they need to keep it safe for all.
Tell them often I love them and I’ll be back before they know it.
That I don’t want to leave them, but I have to do my bit.
Tell them I don’t believe in war and I don’t like guns and knives.
But there’s these terrorists over there who have no value for human lives.
They’ve bombed our embassies, attacked our ships, and toppled the Twin Towers.
For over seventeen years they’ve waged their war; and tried to make us cower!
So tell my little girls be brave and say their daily prayers for me;
That before they know it, I’ll be home with them upon my knee.
So once again I beg you God, look kindly on your soldier;
Look after my little girls God, please, hear my prayer!
“Who am I?”
I left home to go to a far away land, now everything is different. I can’t explain to anyone how. Lately everything seems so very confused. It all runs together and it won’t slow down. One minute I’m a normal eighteen year old kid without a care in the world. Next minute I’m a soldier, alone with my thoughts as I crouch behind a battered vehicle dodging enemy bullets that whiz past my head. Beside me are my brothers and sisters, my only source of strength and courage to go on when I feel myself start to slip away..
An enemy attacked our country. They killed thousands of our own. They threaten to destroy us, to make our country their own. So we came to this place to put an end to their goals. We freed another people these fanatics also terrorized. We taught them to be free. We gave them hope for a better future. We are helping rebuild their country. At the same time we now fight beside each other to defeat this common enemy.
Sadly, one day one of their eighteen year olds might be sent far away. They too may have to fight an enemy who threatens to destroy their homeland. But I pray what we do here today will help prevent that far away day. Not because I am a coward or don’t want to do my job. I am just a soldier, who loves his/her country. And I’m proud to do my part.
Like many other soldiers before, I willingly volunteered for this honor. To me and my brothers and sisters there is no higher calling except the call of God. I live to serve and protect, to keep our enemies at bay. I trained hard for that day all the while hoping it would never come. But if the call came, I knew I would do what needed to be done. There was also the element of being tested, to know if I could I do my part if the need arose.
But I always hoped that my job would become obsolete. You see, no soldier really wants to kill another human being, be they enemy or innocent victims who are unfortunate to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. We hope our very training and presence will deter those who would do us harm. But, now, as in the past, there are those who have no love of country or even their fellow man. They spread terror, hate and death anywhere that they can.
I was all pumped up my first day in this land. I was going to help stop this enemy who brazenly attacked us on our very shore. I was going to stop him, let him feel the Eagle at his door. The first time I had to kill one of them, I never felt any remorse. I didn’t look into his face as he died, so I felt no remorse. But that all changed one day as I watched the life flow slowly from my enemy’s face. Then I watched, for the first time, as the life’s blood of an innocent child drained slowly into the sand. I couldn’t help but feel there must be some other way! I felt a tear slide down my face!
Then I stood helplessly by and watched as one of my own brothers and sisters died. I felt the loss like a stabbing burning pain deep inside my heart. I stored it beside the images of all those innocent children. I felt an anger begin to grow inside me that at times threatened to consume me. I wanted to kill every single one of the enemy. I wanted to strangle them with my bare hands, watch as the recognition appeared in their eyes they were dying at my hands. I would savor that moment forever.
But a voice inside me, I don’t know if it was my own or that of God above, said do that and what will be the difference between you and those you judge. So I put aside my anger, or at least that which crossed the line from soldier defending the rights of others to madman killing just to kill. I tempered my rage, I swallowed my grief, I put aside my loneliness and fears, and became a soldier again.
Everyday, or at least once a week when I could, I talked to my loved one(s) back at home. I read the letters incessantly, opened their packages made with such love. These things were my salvation. They reminded me of who I was before I came to this far away land. I didn’t realize just how much of myself was lost day by day. We are too busy staying alive and doing our jobs to think about much of anything else.
But one day I began to notice a difference. It was a subtle something I couldn’t quite grasp. I started marking down the days as the end of my tour was coming to pass. I found there were more and more moments of reflection. Sometimes I couldn’t even remember what I reflected about. I just wanted to be home again, be normal again, be clean again, sleep in my own bed, not have to go out, hunt the enemy, kill him or be killed, see all the death, the violence. I missed my home. I missed my family. I missed my life. But these thoughts confused me. I am a soldier after all. I have a duty. I answer the call.
I felt guilty about wanting to leave behind my fellow brothers and sisters. I felt guilty that some of them would never go home. I felt guilty because of the burdens my job placed on my family. I felt unclean. Could they still love me though I am no longer that person who went away that day to protect and defend them from harms way? I felt so afraid! Then I felt a terrible fear begin to grow inside me that the horrors of what I had seen, had done, had lived with during my time here might some way touch them too. After months of living on guard to protect my very life, would I be able to relax these instincts?
As I lay in my bed at night reliving the horrors of war in my sleep, would my spouse be safe from me? Would I lose control in that moment of not being asleep anymore but not quite awake, and think he/she was the enemy? Can I control all the anger, rage, pain, and not let it spill over to my kids? But hardest of all, can I be with them, accept their love when inside even though some small part of me knows all that other garbage is there and all of what is left of my emotions is still inside me somewhere but I FEEL ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!
A dark cloud of nothingness and darkness is wrapped around my heart. It stays with me night and day. Only the battle with the enemy or the fellowship of my brothers and sisters in arms comforts me because I see that same nothingness in their eyes too. I see their confusion too. I see that like me their training and professionalism as trained soldiers is all that allows them to go on each day. All that keeps us all on the right side of the line that separates us from the type of human being we are and the enemy we fight.
All those cards, letters, phone calls, emails, they too help keep us from crossing that line. They also keep us from losing ourselves completely. It is the support from home that keeps us going. It is the love from our country that makes the difference. That’s why when I read or hear the news from home my despair deepens. The news is all so negative. There is no news of the good we do. There is no news that we are winning this war. There is no news that says our country has not abandoned us. There is only the marching in the streets, the protests outside the hospitals where our brothers and sisters lay recovering from their wounds, the fighting in the Congress.
Were it not for our training, the love we brought with us of our loved ones, the love of our country, our own love in return, I/we couldn’t go on. We wouldn’t have had the strength to start checking out things for ourselves about the situation back at home. We wouldn’t have been able to figure out that all those spreading the hate, negativity, and lack of support are made of the same substance as the enemy we fight here, so far away from home. The only thing that keeps our fear at bay for our homeland is knowing and remembering that the same spirit that has allowed our country to exist this long will raise its collective arm and stop those at home who would destroy our country, its dreams, its hopes, all the good that exists in America.
So, “Who am I?” I am an American Soldier. I am an American Veteran. I am proud to be an American. I love my country. I am proud and feel privileged to have served my country. But I am one of many who need help. I am not a coward. I am not afraid to serve again. But, sometimes no matter how hard I try, the stain of war leaves an imprint on me that I can’t fight off by myself. I try. God knows I try. But, I need your help now. I need you to help me look after my family . I need you to help me find myself again. I need you to be strong and do your part as I recover. I need you to not let those in America who would try to destroy our country succeed. I need to know my sacrifices, given willingly, were not in vain. I need to know what I did mattered. I need to know again, “Who am I the person?”
[I feel I must make a clarification. I wrote this post on behalf of our troops. I did my best to try to present what I thought might be going through the mind of all/some of our deployed soldiers. If any soldier feels I have done them an injustice, please let me know. I hope I did a decent job. I hope you also realize that none of what I've written is intended as anything negative. I just wanted to try to say some things y'all might not feel comfortable or advisable to say.
(....edited by devildog6771 on Saturday 2/18/06....)
"The Measure of a Man"
You know Red, it's OK to be down. It's OK to want it all over and be at home where you belong.
It's OK to feel the weight of a leader. It's OK to want to have just a moment when you don't have to be so strong!
It's OK to be afraid all the time. It's OK to feel outside yourself when everything's too much.
It's OK to feel an overwhelming rage. It's OK to curse and spew about the war, the MSM, stupid orders and such.
It's OK to cry when you're over flowing inside. It's OK to pray to God it will all go away.
You are but a man, you see. No man should live and see what you do in a day!
You're like the man in Thoreau's "Different Drummer." You've found your own way to survive each and every miserable day!
Patton said, "Courage is fear holding on a minute longer." I read your words and hear your thoughts and know you too live that way!
(I could find no other way to say what I want to say to you by way of encouragement. So I wrote this poem. I hope it brings you (and your men) some measure of pride.
I know you beat yourself up for how you feel. But, I think the most courageous of men are those not afraid to say what is inside!)
(I wrote this for a soldier blogger.)
In Honor of Matt Maupin
"Remember My Face"
It's been so long now I can't help but feel,
my life is all over, is this all really real;
I've been a prisoner for such a long time,
no one left behind, was that just a line;
They beat and threaten my life with a shiv,
name, rank, and serial number, that's all I give;
Does anyone even remember my name,
or am I a soldier and prisoner of little fame;
How much longer will I be held in this place,
my name is Matt, do you remember my face;
I'm an American soldier who willingly served,
I can't help but think this is so undeserved;
Have I been abandoned in this horrible place,
will I die and disappear without leaving a trace;
What about my buddies, who fought at my side,
are they still fighting, has the war turned the tide;
Will they come for me and free me from this fate,
or will I die in this place a victim of fanatical hate;
The country I love and served with such pride,
has it turned its back on me now, has it lied;
Please don't leave me behind, it would be a disgrace,
my name is Matt Maupin, please, remember my face?
(I was honored the Maupin Family asked to copy this. As you all know, Matt was finally found and returned to his family with all the "honors" he deserved. So little for so much sacrifice!)
"Don't Heaven Sound Like a Beautiful Place"
As he looks across the huge field below,
off to the right he sees a bright rainbow;
Days of rain have washed clean the air,
and fed the grass and flowers growing there.
He gazes at row upon row of granite crosses,
a constant reminder of war's tragic losses;
in perfect alignment they stand in formation,
brave soldiers who once guarded our nation;
As they rest here peacefully in this holy place,
He hangs his head at the shame and disgrace;
They gave their lives in defense a nation,
that now stands divided by political oration;
Then he reflects on that day in September,
The Twin Towers in New York a burning ember;
The Pentagon in Washington partially ablaze,
A plane crash in Pennsylvania saw panic for days;
On that day of tragedy and foreign invasion,
he reviewed his options and rose to the occasion,
All across America young men and women stood,
All took the oath because they felt they should;
He knew he didn't have to join up but he did;
He felt God spoke to him and did as He bid;
Tall and proud he told his little girls goodbye,
With hugs and kisses he left with head held high;
Promise me you'll look after my girls he said,
Tell them I love them when they go to bed;
Make sure they know Daddy didn't want to go,
But, under the circumstances I couldn't say no;
Remind them of the promise I made to them,
I'll be ok and return home but don't know when;
To say their prayers and think of me often,
He didn't know that he'd return home in a coffin;
He wasn't killed by a terrorist bullet or deed,
instead his fellow companion failed to heed;
in a moment of carelessness a man lost his life,
and a moments panic and fear caused great strife;
He looked at the names in this sacred place,
He read each one to himself and saw a face;
Not here in this field where he could never lay,
But in the house of his Father every day;
Though he did not die on any field of combat,
He did die serving his country, you can believe that;
Though he wanted to be with his girls and friends,
He would still have made that same decision again;
After a few more moments of silent reflection,
he forgave the circumstances of his situation;
As he did this he heard the heavenly choir sing,
That was when he knew he had done the right thing;
And as he rose to heaven with a flutter of wing,
I heard him sing,
"*Doesn't Heaven sound like a beautiful place?
And I'm ready for the day I see his face.
Won't be no guns.
Won't be no knives.
Hear the best preaching that
you ever heard in your lives."
[*by: PO2 Michael J. Gray, killed in Kuwait, March 5,2004]
[I wrote this poem in memory of my nephew who was killed in Kuwait on March 5, 2004. I also wrote it to honor all our troops on this Memorial Day.]
A visit with Michael
I like to go to the cemetery at night
when the darkness spreads its eerie light.
I always drive down the road to the right
following the soft beam of the headlights.
As I drive slowly through the darkness I see
a carpet of beautiful trees scattered randomly.
The road quietly meanders around the outside
as I continue through where you now reside.
Inside the loop throughout the quiet little park
I see scattered here and there lanterns in the dark.
In every direction they cast a soft glow of light
like one big silky blanket of warmth each night.
They maintain their vigilance, the lanterns and trees
like the moon and stars nightly watch over the seas.
Finally I come to a stop and get out and walk a ways
down the little cement path I haven’t visited in days.
Then I look down at the marble plague on the ground
as all around me the crickets are the only sound.
I walk around to make sure nothing’s been disturbed
then I sit and talk to you for a while sure I am heard.
I talk about the good times we all used to share
and tell you how I feel and I lay my soul bare.
I talk about how proud we all are for what you did
and I think a lot about when you were just a kid.
I tell you what I know of your girls and you mom’s life
and then all about you grandma and your wife.
But most of all I just sit and talk about things
I didn’t talk about before as I wipe away the tears
that this always brings!
“Bubba and Michael”
One life lay suffering in his bed, waiting for his final journey home;
One life lay quietly sleeping in his bed, his journey just begun;
From the moment they both met, a bond was formed between them;
A bond that only they understood, a shared unspoken understanding;
Over the next few months that bond just grew, giving comfort to both;
The one derived a growing sense of peace, the other a warm feeling of love;
On that final day when the one slipped away, at home at last;
The other stayed behind, too young to comprehend what they had shared;
And as these two accompanied each other on their individual journeys;
We all watched in awe and respect the growth of unconditional love.
Over the next few years our grief for the one began to lessen;
Our hearts began to mend, our sadness replaced by many fond memories;
Over these same few years the other grew into an amazing young man;
He had shocking red hair, a face full of freckles, and an insatiable curiosity;
He was such an uncomplicated young man, so full of love;
With a contagious spirit and zest for life, he brought out the best in everyone near him;
There was such joy in everything he did, and we all loved him dearly;
Both our parents doted on him, it was hard not to;
And his Mom and him shared a loving bond that was beautiful to watch;
My brothers and sisters and I were crazy about him, we couldn’t help it;
He grew up in our home as one of us, and he was this pesky little boy that made us all feel so adored.
He had an astounding mind, even his teachers were amazed;
He put his heart and soul into everything he did, he had so much he wanted to do;
Like his uncle he went into law enforcement, “it was a family tradition;”
He married and had four little girls, he could change diapers better than any mom;
He never missed a chance to show them his love;
He was a Police Officer, a Mentor, a Rock Singer, a Song Writer, his talents were many;
But it was his role as a good Father and Husband that he most wanted to be known;
He took “his girls” everywhere he went, he was a father in every sense of the word;
He never was too tired or busy to take time with them, or read them a story;
He told them and showed them in every way, every moment of each day;
But with all he gave to his family, he still found time for his mom and grandmother;
He was a loving son and grandson, and a good friend to both;
He loved to spend time with each, letting them both know how much he loved them too.
After 9/11, he answered God’s call and joined the Navy, he wanted to be ready if needed;
He answered the call and again gave his all, only this time he too took the final journey, he is now at home;
Two lives are now at home, both sitting at the side of their Father;
One pathed the way many years before, saving a place for the other to come;
Now they are both looking down from above, both clothed in an aura of love;
Keeping watch over us all, from so very high up above
(In Memory of My Nephew, Michael, and my brother, Bubba, who died from cancer one year after he left the Army during the Vietnam ERA.)