This poem originally appeared in the VVA Chapter 154, Boo-Coo News, in May, 2018. It is a reading that our chaplain shares during funerals when one of our chapter brothers or sisters has passed [these are becoming more frequent lately]. I am unable to locate the author of this work, but was directed to the “Navy News” to begin my search which didn’t shed any light. If anybody knows who the original author is, then please get back to me so I can properly cite this work. While reading this, keep in mind the solemn setting in which these words are spoken aloud.
He is a man who looks the world in the eye. He’s a man who feels an extra heart tug when a flag goes by. He’s a man who steps a little faster when he hears the beat of a military band. He is a veteran.
He comes in all assorted sizes and shapes. He’s a big man, he’s a small man. He’s a short man. He’s a tall man. He is the Dough Boy of World War I. The GI of World War II. He’s the man who has seen Korean skies, fought the cold and uneasy battle of Berlin, and braved the uneasy booby traps of the Ia Drang valley of Vietnam. He is a veteran.
He is a sailor, soldier, marine. He is a flyer, Seabee, coast guard. He is artillery, infantry, medic, aviation, machinist mate, armor and ordnance. He is a veteran.
He has the quiet dignity of a man who knows the price of freedom. He has the clear eyes of a man who respects himself. He is courage living on Main Street. He is patriotism mowing the lawn on Saturday afternoon. He is good citizenship with a smile on his face. He is a veteran.
He is Republican, Democrat, Independent. He is a mechanic, farmer and banker. He is a Catholic, a Protestant, a Jew. He is rich and poor and in between. He is a veteran.
He is a man who loves peace because he knows the price tag of war. He’s a member of history’s most exclusive fraternity. He is a veteran.
He likes the majesty of America’s mountains, the tranquility of America’s valleys. He likes the bustle of America’s cities and the friendless of America’s main streets. He likes the sound of America’s children playing on America’s playgrounds. He likes to see the flag go by. He feels sad when he hears the sound of a bugler playing Taps. He is a citizen soldier, peacetime leader. He is the first volunteer in a time of trouble and the last to come home. He is a veteran.
He is proud of his American past, alert to his American present, confident of America’s future. He likes the legends of America’s greats – the Washingtons, the Jeffersons, the Abraham Lincolns, the Roosevelts, the Robert E. Lees, the Stonewall Jacksons, the Pattons, the Eisenhowers, the MacArthurs, the Nimitzes, the Pullers, the Dalys and all the patriots who marched through American history books.
He has bivouacked at Valley Forge, charged the hill at Gettysburg, stormed the sand at Guadalcanal, swarmed ashore at Omaha Beach, advanced on Pork Chop Hill, and fought in the bunker complex in War Zone C in Southeast Asia, Khe Sanh, DaNang, Plekiu, Quang Tri, Con Tien, the Ashau Valley and the Mekong Delta. He parachuted into Granada. He stood watch in Beirut, he fought in the streets of Panama and served in the Middle East in support of Operation Desert Shield and fought in Desert Storm and Iraq and in the mountains of Afghanistan. He is a veteran.
In the very rear of his secret heart there’s always a tinge of sorrow a souvenir of sadness for lost and departed comrades. No matter how grey his temples grow or how many inches to his middle-aged waist, he always walks with distinct pride that isn’t given to lesser men. He’s America’s veteran with an honorable discharge. He is Democracy with a Good Conduct Medal lost in the darkness of his keepsake box. He is Freedom with a Purple Heart. He is a first-class fighting man with a quiet walk and a sentimental grin. He is America’s most honorable citizen. He is a veteran.
Note: Even though there is no direct reference to our female veterans herein…it should be inferred that they are a part of this tribute.
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