Perry A. Dautreuil
THE TEARS OF A VET
I remember as a boy playing and working hard
In the shadow of my Father in the security of our backyard.
To me he was a giant, there could be no man any greater
Quiet and Strong, but Fiercely Proud of having served in the European Theater
“Tell me about the War, Daddy and of all the brave things you’ve done!”
He paused for a time, then with tear-filled eyes he said only
“I pray you never see war, Son.”
I felt I had wounded him, in his tears I saw Grief and Pain,
And I vowed before God and Heaven never to ask again.
But several years later, in what would be my most profound weekend;
My Father took me hunting with him and his V.F.W. friends.
Now, I remember listening to their jokes, insults and jeers
And thanking God and my Father for the privilege of being with them here.
Then, slowly as that night wore on their War Stories began to unfurl
And before the night had ended I realized these simple men had changed the world.
Their Stories told of battles that will be remembered forevermore,
They spoke of the attack on Pearl Harbor and of storming the Normandy Shore
They each spoke quite humbly, but with Strength, Pride, and Will
As they told of being at Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, and Bougainville.
Some spoke of the inhuman hardships, of the ungodly cold and rain,
And of the hard push that was ordered to secure the River Seine.
Their Stories went on all night, they seemed to just go on, and on, and on . . .
As they told of ‘Firebase Charlie’, the Tet Offensive and the Fall of Saigon.
They also spoke of the Sacred Battlefields where Our Fallen are there still,
Buried at sea, lost in the jungles of Nam, and abandoned on ‘Pork Chop Hill’.
Before that night was over, countless tears were shed
As each man told his Story as he remembered the Honored Dead.
My Father came sit beside me, “You’ll be of draft-age pretty soon-You once asked
What war was like, tonight you got your answer from the men of ‘The Been-There Platoon.”
I felt privileged to have been in their company, and grateful for the things I learned,
Veterans weep freely, not for themselves, but for those who never returned.
They came from shops, farms and homes, into armed conflict they were hurled
And by doing their duty with Honor, they did indeed change the whole world.
Oh, we may build many grand and noble monuments,
But the grandest and the noblest yet
Recall the Names and the Faces of ‘Our Most Honored Dead’
Immortalized in the Tears of Vet.
©Copyright 2003 by Perry A. Dautreuil
Author’s Note: I hope you do not consider this forward of me, but I gave this poem I wrote, “The Tears of a Vet”, to my co-worker whose husband was serving in Afghanistan. That copy included a service photo of my father. She forwarded that copy to her husband, where the poem and the photo were enlarged and displayed, so I’ve been told, on the main bulletin board of company command. A Twentieth Century Warrior Spiriting Twenty-First Century Warriors!