Nancy L. Meek


Mentally quite fit and morally straight,
he longed to be present there at the gate,
marching on through it along with the rest:
his fellow mates who had passed the test,
who went and heartily have given their all,
who heard and heeded their country’s call;
while he, classified as medically unfit,
trudged back home with the guilt from it.

He never dreamed he’d be turned away
as he waited in line that fateful day,
yearning to serve like his uncle and dad,
who fought for their country with all they had;
but, unlike him, their ears worked great,
no past operations, not even to-date,
to hold them at bay from giving their all,
from stepping forward to answer the call.

The shame of it kept him from sleeping at night,
knowing the best men were chosen to fight.
How could he face the old vets in his town,
knowing his country had turned him down?
Though he mustered the courage to tell a few,
he mostly refrained with others he knew.
“What good would it do to inform them all,
‘They wouldn’t let me serve… to answer the call?’”

So, he kept to himself the guilt and the shame,
getting physically sick, at times, from the game,
till one day he decided to slam shut that door
and open a new one. Not to his private war,
but those he abandoned back there at the gate;
as he, too-absorbed with his own sorry fate,
failed to acknowledge those brave soldiers all
who stepped o’er his boots to answer the call.

He salutes them now with his tributes in rhyme,
hoping it will somehow make up for the time
he dwelled on himself and his label “unfit”;
although he admits he’s still haunted by it…
a red stamp on paper bearing his name,
“Medically unfit”… what a terrible shame;
or maybe ‘twas a blessing God delivered in time
to save his young life… What a terrible crime!

A response to the poem, “Medically Unfit” – ©Copyright July 9, 2010 by David J. Delaney, and subsequently prompted the response, “I Tried” – ©Copyright July 18, 2010 by Colin F. Jones