A. Lawrence “Larry” Vaincourt

Lawrence A. Vaincourt

IWVPA Bronze Helmet Top Poet Award Recipient: August 2002
Larry Vaincourt has been writing for many years and has been published across Canada and the United States. His volumes of prose and poetry, “Don’t Burn the Biffy” and “Just a Common Soldier and Other Poems” are available for purchase through his website.

He is probably best known for his moving poem Just a Common Soldier (A Soldier Died Today), which has been reprinted thousands of times worldwide. It was featured in Ann Landers column on Memorial Day 2001, and broadcast on the ART BELL COAST-TO-COAST radio show in November 2001.

Born in upstate New York, Larry grew up as a farm boy in the rural setting of Covey Hill, Quebec, where he lived until he joined the Air Force in World War II as a Leading Aircraftsman. After serving as an aircraft mechanic and part-time entertainer, he returned to Quebec in 1946. He has had a varied career which has included working as a logger, news photographer (ABC News Pictures), civil servant and metallurgical photographer (Rolls Royce).

In 1963 Larry opened his own photo studio which he operated until 1983. After selling the business, Larry embarked upon his writing career first as a regular columnist for THE LACHUTE WATCHMAN.

Larry’s prose and poetry have been carried for the last 15 years as a regular feature in the monthly journal DIALOGUE. For many years his poetry also appeared on the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) program FRESH AIR.

(A Soldier Died Today)

He was getting old and paunchy and his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion, telling stories of the past
Of a war that he had fought in and the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies; they were heroes, every one.

And tho’ sometimes, to his neighbors, his tales became a joke,
All his Legion buddies listened, for they knew whereof he spoke.
But we’ll hear his tales no longer for old Bill has passed away,
And the world’s a little poorer, for a soldier died today.

He will not be mourned by many, just his children and his wife,
For he lived an ordinary and quite uneventful life.
Held a job and raised a family, quietly going his own way,
And the world won’t note his passing, though a soldier died today.

When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing and proclaim that they were great.
Papers tell their whole life stories, from the time that they were young,
But the passing of a soldier goes unnoticed and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land
A guy who breaks his promises and cons his fellow man?
Or the ordinary fellow who, in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his Country and offers up his life?

A politician’s stipend and the style in which he lives
Are sometimes disproportionate to the service that he gives.
While the ordinary soldier, who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal and perhaps, a pension small.

It’s so easy to forget them for it was so long ago,
That the old Bills of our Country went to battle, but we know
It was not the politicians, with their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom that our Country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger, with your enemies at hand,
Would you want a politician with his ever-shifting stand?
Or would you prefer a soldier, who has sworn to defend
His home, his kin and Country and would fight until the end?

He was just a common soldier and his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us we may need his like again.
For when countries are in conflict, then we find the soldier’s part
Is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honor while he’s here to hear the praise,
Then at least let’s give him homage at the ending of his days.
Perhaps just a simple headline in a paper that would say,
Our Country is in mourning, for a soldier died today.