Shannon S. Ricles

SAILOR SONS

Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion,
but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.
Adlai Stevenson

As a mother, we guide and watch our children grow,
Not ever sure just where their road of life will go,
Or even which way their paths might bend,
But always being their advocate, their coach, and their friend.

We constantly give encouragement and praise,
Even when they say, “I hate you” in voices raised.
We know they don’t mean it, and once we said it too,
So we just whisper, “But I love you.”

We sacrifice, scrimp, and do without,
Knowing that they’re worth it without a doubt!
We work so hard to get them grown,
But are saddened when that day is known.

It seems that just the other day, he was only a baby,
Then the next day, he is a sailor in the Navy.
Now our emotions are mixed with different shades of hue,
As we see him stand so tall and proud in his dress blues.

We ask, “Why?” as our hearts lament,
Because we just remembered the current events.
As our hearts break in two and the tears fall inside,
He says, “Because you taught me Mom to have pride.”

“Pride in my country, pride in my flag.
Don’t worry Mom, my courage will never lag.”
Oh, how can we argue when you know it is true,
For how often have we worn the red, white, and blue!

So we smile with all the love a mother can show,
And reply, “Yes, son, I know.”
We muster the courage to hold in the tears,
And try to not let him know of our fears.

The time is now that you know deep in your heart,
That it is time for the mom and child to part.
He has become the man we always wanted him to be,
And sadly, it is time for him to set sail to sea.

We stand on the pier and watch the ship pull out,
Wanting to cry, but instead we shout,
“I love you son, and I am so very proud of you!”
All the while wishing we didn’t feel so blue.

Day after day, we watch the TV for any news,
Of what the day might bring for the ship’s crew.
We know in our mind that they are highly trained,
And well prepared for Saddam Hussein.

So it’s hard to explain to the wives and friends,
Why worry becomes a daily trend.
Yes, men they are and always will be,
But our BABY is all we can see.

Now we know that a military mom we must be,
Because we worry more now than when he was three!
But even when on our pillow the tears do fall,
We promise to sound only happy when he calls.

For we are a PROUD Navy Mom now,
And we WILL get through this somehow!

Author’s Note: For My Sons

TM3 Christopher M. Shelby, USN
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, CVN 69

And

OSSN Aric S. Shelby, USN
USS George Washington, CVN 73

This poem was written late one night, as I stayed awake all night for the third straight night watching CNN hoping to hear any news about Iraq and the impending possible conflict. The UN inspectors had been thrown out of Iraq and my son had called me from the USS George Washington, which had just begun a six-month deployment in the Mediterranean Sea. He said that due to the UN incident they were recalled to the ship from their port visit and tasked with getting to the Persian Gulf as quickly as possible.

Of course, I am a mom, so I worry even though I know it does no good. I calculated approximately when they might be going through the Suez Canal and then I worried and waited. I worried and then worried some more. I knew it was senseless and non-productive, but that was my baby on that ship. And yes, I knew he was on an aircraft carrier one of the safest places to be in any conflict, but as I said, I still worried.

So finally I wanted to write my feelings down on paper and thought that might help me to stop worrying. I did and that is how “Sailor Sons” was born. My oldest son was also in the Navy at the same time onboard the USS Eisenhower, but he was safe at home in Norfolk. However, I knew if a conflict were to arise, that he could be gone too, so the poem is for both my sons.

My oldest son served five years, but is now working as a civilian for the Army Corp of Engineers. My younger son is still in the navy, 11 years so far, and he will be commissioned as an officer next Friday, October 6, 2006. From there he will go on to Naval Flight School to become a Naval Flight Officer (NFO). So as you can see he has come a long way since I wrote this poem, but he is still my baby, and I still worry… just not as much as I used to!

Shannon S. Ricles
September 29, 2006