David R. “Poppa” Alexander

OUR GOVERNMENT’S SHAME

He was a young man of eighteen,
Going to wear a uniform, neat, fresh, and green.
Leaving home wasn’t going to be easy,
His mom was doing what mom’s do just to stay busy.

He had been in the Military for one short year,
Out to make his father’s memory of him come alive loud and clear.
His dad had been a World War II Vet,
And he had not made his dad proud yet.

His stature was that of a man,
Never had he asked for, nor received a hand.
His had his dad’s size and weight,
Six foot four and weighing one ninety-eight.

Strong and sure of himself,
He had told his dad that he loved him just before he left.
His mom was crying when he caught the bus,
Leaving her standing there in a cloud of dust.

Reported to Oakland for a long trip, that left his family behind,
Flew in an airplane for the very first time.
Twenty-three hours later, he landed in Cam Ran Bay;
It was a hot and sweaty day.

Joined up with his new company in the field,
This almost didn’t feel like it was real.
He did well and was promoted,
Wrote to his dad and told of the battles and bombs that exploded.

On the day of his ninth month in this Hell,
He was captured by an enemy that threw him in a cell.
No contact with anyone that he knew,
Months grew into years, and his government didn’t come through.

His uniform was long worn away,
He now wore black pants, no shirt and the night was just like the day.
It has been over thirty years,
Of hard work, beatings and millions of tears

He wondered if his dad was ashamed,
For he was sure that he must be to blame.
The United States Government would not forget those left behind,
But what has taken them such a long, long time.

He had learned to speak a little Vietnamese,
And if they didn’t beat him, at night sometimes he could feel a cool breeze.
His captors had told of how they had won,
And he would die here without the warmth of the sun.

Oh, but my government wouldn’t leave me here;
They must be coming because I love America so dear.
His hair was almost all gone;
His beard was gray and very long.

For a meal, he might have a little black rice and fish,
But to see his mom and dad was his favorite wish.
Through the years, he had kept himself alive,
Not willing to give his captors the pleasure if he should die.

He could stand the daily beatings, the hunger, filth and the light so dim,
But he couldn’t understand how his county had forgotten him.
He prayed to God to set him free,
And asked, “Why has my country forgotten me?”

It has now been thirty-two years;
He had lost hearing in both of his ears.
He had very little vision and was covered with scars,
But he still believes in the stripes and the stars.

Last night he died in that sty of a pin,
His body was dumped in a ditch, but what was his great sin?
As he was passing away,
He thought of his dad and wondered if he might see him again someday.

His country might have forgotten this boy turned man,
But he fought bravely for his country and the land.
His only regret for all these years, while being beaten from sun to sun,
Was he would never hear his dad say I’m proud of you son.

Never would he know he had been changed to KIA,
Less than a year from the very first day.
Because OUR government left him there, broken and lame,
Now it’s all over and OUR government is the only ones to blame.

Submitted for the June 2002 IWVPA Club Theme Project, “Prisoner of War