In crimson hue the missiles flew and cracked the sky asunder,
while mortars tolled, explosions rolled and shook the ground like thunder.
Yet in the midst of rockets roar a figure stood alone,
a grizzled sergeant gazing on the field with eyes of stone.
He’d heard before the mortars roar in jungles far away,
and left his blood there in the mud where fallen comrades lay.
And when it seemed the gates of hell itself had opened wide,
when every fiber of his being had screamed to run and hide,
he held his ground and duty bound to country and to Corps
he faced the final sacrifice as many had before.
A sudden movement in the night broke through his reverie,
to drive away old memories he’d just as soon not see.
On trembling legs a breathless figure dashed across the street
collapsing on the ground before the grizzled sergeant’s feet.
“Oh Grandpa did you see ‘em?” asked the boy with shining eyes,
“the fireworks are really cool, they almost fill the skies!”
The sergeant smiled and hugged the boy, a moment most sublime.
“You bet I did” the sergeant said, “I’ve seen them many times.”
Then with a kiss on Grandpa’s cheek he jumped and dashed away
Returning to the magic that was Independence Day.
And with a gentle sigh the sergeant, flanked on either side
by sons and daughters, hugged his wife, now thirty years his bride.
He raised his eyes to heaven where the flag now proudly flew,
majestic in her billowing of red and white and blue.
With hand upon his brow he stood once more in proud salute,
His love for God and Country ever strong and absolute.
And thinking back upon those nights so full of pain and fear,
when locked in mortal combat he was sure his end was near;
He said a prayer of thanks that God had seen to pull them through
And given him a life that those who’d fallen never knew.
With humble heart he took his place with patriots of lore,
And shared an oath with every soldier that had gone before.
Should e’er the call arise to stand for nation, God and friends…
He knew from deep within his heart he’d do it all again.
©Copyright 2004 by Michael Marks