David R. “Poppa” Alexander

David R. Alexander: A Child is a ChildA CHILD IS A CHILD

Here little one let me hold you to me
I know you don’t understand what war can be.
It’s hard to understand your mother in a war
Especially when you are only three or four.

I know you don’t understand a word I say
I’ll hold you here with me and for you I’ll pray.
Go ahead and cry little one; it’s o.k.
If only I understood the words you are trying to say.

Sit here with me little one upon my knee
Let me try and comfort you; I know the one you want isn’t me.
I think I have some chocolate here in my shirt
Let’s you and I share it; let me wipe away the dirt.

A little girl of only three or four
Caught up in the misery of a war:
A little shirt is all she has to wear
A little dirty face and black matted hair.

Finding you here standing by your mother’s side
I don’t know how long you have stood there and cried.
Charlie did a job on the village where you live
To have not had this happen – what I wouldn’t give.

Come on little one let’s you and I sit behind the tree
We can look at God’s sky and all the beauty to see.
Sure lay your little head on my shoulder and sleep
Just seeing you like this makes me weep.

RTO, call Battalion and tell them what we need
Tell them to send out someone to care for her and to do a good deed.
No, we won’t be leaving until someone comes to take this little one
Tell them she is too little for any of us to shun.

Quite little one, lay your head back on my arm
As long as I can hold you, you will come to no harm.
Tell them we aren’t leaving until there is help is on the way
Tell them I really don’t care what they have to say.

Just rest now little one, don’t worry about a thing
A chopper will soon come and help for you they will bring.
This is it little one, they are here to care for you
I know this isn’t much but it’s the best I can do.

Author’s Note: This is a true story. June 1967 just east of Kontum, RVN we came upon a village and a little girl of four was the only one left alive out of her family. We found her standing by her dead mother crying, (There were a couple of older women left and they had a couple of kids of their own). She spoke no English and I no Vietnamese however she seemed to trust me and I held her for over three hours until the Battalion sent a chopper out with a Vietnamese interpreter to take her to an orphanage just outside of An Khe City. I never saw her again. I did take a picture of her as she ran from us when we first got there (wish I had taken another) and found her name was Linh, which means gentle spirit. There is hardly a day that goes by that I don’t see a little girl that reminds me of her.

I received a written reprimand for not leaving her; they said I was endangering my men. I don’t know – maybe I was. I was 20 years old and couldn’t leave her there. I wrote this poem after all these years in hopes someday some where a Linh will see it and maybe remember a young American soldier that held her for a while.