As we celebrate another Veterans Day with a decreasing number of the Greatest Generation still alive, it might be time to pause in our picnic celebrations or parades to reflect on their sacrifice and accomplishments and pray the lessons of their courage and valor are retained and amplified. You may not be fortunate enough to know a living WWII veteran but if you do, today would be a great time to call or visit and praise his or her service.
General Old Age
They answered the call by the millions, regardless of inner doubts or parents' fears,
Whether by draft notice or marching to recruitment, some even lying to be able to volunteer.
This was a war not for gold, honor or to occupy another's land,
No, this was a war to not let the gains of tyranny gel and stand,
Dropping plow, lathe, apron, even books and all manner of tools of trade,
A river of men and women to don khaki and join in the Great Crusade,
Ours was not a warrior nation, in standing armies we stood among the world almost last,
In every prior struggle once done, our armies and navies faded quietly into the peaceful past,
Our navy was our oceans that made
Deeper and wider and more protected than any fortress moat,
No planes no matter how fast or how high they could soar,
Never, ever could they bring the horsemen of war upon our shore,
Our army was
Behind each tree and wall, a citizen armed to cause deadly loss,
Or so it seemed, until that early, peaceful December Sunday morn,
In two hours our fathers' and grandfathers' generation in an instant was reborn,
From the sleep of isolation, a nation island in restful and secure peace,
To now chain the dogs of war others saw fit to unleash,
16 million Americans in the colors soldiered and served,
Over 400,000 never reaped the long life they so richly deserved,
These Crusaders lost a few battles and suffered a few defeats,
From time to time either orderly or in disarray they were forced to retreat
But the best generals the Axis could ever put upon the field,
In the long run each and every one died or had to yield,
The oceans soon became guarded American lakes.
No enemy admiral would ever survive in our seamen's wake,
Our airmen drowned out the sun with deadly, lethal planes,
Our foes fell from the skies like the monsoon rains,
There was not a general or admiral they could not best, their deeds fill many a page,
Save one general with forces all would wish never to have to engage,
Yet the battle has at last been joined and throughout this land it will rage,
This general takes no quarter, there are no prisoners and the war is in its final stage,
The men and Crusaders of summer in the winter of their lives are meeting General Age,
More leave the field of battle daily than the carnage of their blackest days,
We have hindered his march, but soon we will no longer be able to delay.
Armies reducing to Corps and then to Divisions and then to Brigades,
The numbers of the Greatest Generation slowly continue to fade,
Regiments to Battalions, then to Companies and then to Platoons and then to Squads.
While we still have the time, it is they we should honor and laud,
For sadly, soon there will only be empty reunion halls,
Full only of the memories of heroes who answered the call.
And the prayer that this General will soon never, ever have to fight again such a war,
There will be no combat veterans aging and waiting their turn to storm an eternal peaceful shore.
Michael P. Ridley aka The Alaskanpoet
© September 16, 2007