"Good night, Dad," I watched my father,
As he climbed the stairs to go to bed.
"Good night, son," he softly answered,
With a vague salute to his white head.

I waved back from my big chair,
But Dad's wave was more salute.
He learned that sixty years ago,
As a World War II recruit.


The story goes ... Dad was eighteen,
When World War II broke out.
About the age my son is now,
Too young to know what life's about.

I think I know how I would feel,
If they drafted my young son.
I suppose my grandfolks felt the same,
December Seventh, Nineteen Forty-one.


Dad seldom talked about the war,
But I remember, as a kid,
Once I asked him where he went,
And what it was he did.

He said, "Someday, son, I'll tell you,
When you're old enough to know,
About the battlefields I fought on,
And the bloodshed I saw flow."


And, you know, he's never told me,
I've asked time and time again.
I do know he has some medals,
In velvet cases in his den.

He used to get them out each year,
When he donned his uniform.
Parades would be held on holidays,
And Veterans would perform.


"That's my Dad," I'd point out,
As he marched proudly down the street.
His old unit reunited,
Those old guys never missed a beat.

But I wonder how he felt and thought,
When, still a boy, he went to war,
Was it just a new adventure?
Did he know what the fight was for?


He gave up his days at college,
Instead of pigskins, he had guns.
He heard no cheers for touchdowns,
Just, "Thank God, they're on the run!"

When I was just a little kid,
Sometimes Dad screamed out at night.
Mom would say, "Go back to bed,
War dreams give your Dad a fright."


My Uncle Ned was killed in France,
That was Dad's youngest brother.
Dad wouldn't talk about him much,
What I knew ... I learned from Mother.

That was the war, they said,
To end all future wars.
How many have we had since then?
I wonder ... any more?


My Dad's a gentle, quiet man,
Who won't discuss his fears or pains.
He fought for those unborn, as yet,
To insure this land remains.

There is no proper way to thank him,
That will have to come from God above.
But I can, at least, extend my hand,
In sincere respect and love.

 

~  Virginia Ellis ~
Copyright 1999

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