Thurman P. Woodfork

ANOTHER VETERANS DAY

Thurman P. Woodfork: Another Veterans' DayI have seen your laughing faces,
With crinkled, smiling eyes
Changed by war to somber masks
Where now only sorrow lies.

What happened to the gung ho kids
Who left home, courage high?
Well, some came back, if alive,
With eyes that just want to cry.

But, how is it that you can survive
A war’s most vicious wrath,
And, then upon returning home,
Find a serene and peaceful path

To follow for the rest of your days
While another comrade-in-arms
Seems to have experienced
Only deep and incurable harm?

You saw the same gut-wrenching sights,
Felt the blood ooze, sticky and warm.
You fought through rice paddies and jungles
And across sand dunes and farms.

You reacted alike with visceral anguish
To the searing loss of friends;
You lived through the same perilous nights
And days that never seemed to end.

You flew the fast-moving, vengeful jets and
Chopper medevacs;
You fired off rockets and dropped Napalm
Or were tireless airborne FACS.

You manned the door guns and dropped
the flares that ripped the dark asunder;
You soared above the smoking earth
as it throbbed to your Rolling Thunder.

You sat huddled in a darkened room,
Glued to your radar scope,
Knowing that the bright dots you controlled
Were some besieged grunts’ final hope.

You patrolled the base perimeter
Along with your brave canine;
You drove the trucks and cooked the
meals, and detonated mines.

You bandaged wounds and operated,
to save thousands of lives;
You wept for the ones who didn’t make it
And cared for the ones who survived.

You were numbed by all the endless deaths,
The pain, the weariness, and terror.
Yet one has somehow found lasting peace,
While the other leads a life without fervor.

It isn’t a matter of simple guts,
For having courage does not spare
Anyone from the nightmares and flashbacks
That can, unbidden, suddenly flare.

It’s something that resides deep within
The essence of what we are,
That allows one soul to heal itself
While another is too deeply scarred.

It’s something that I contemplate
On the approach of this Veterans’ Day;
And I wish for us all eternal peace
When we come to the end of our ways.