Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

The Sentinel At the Gates
Alumni et Patriae Asto C John Puzzo 2002

Without the Standing Sentinel, and ever must there be.
Without the Standing Sentinel, not one could long live free.

I know they're all still out there, together evermore,

From Continental Army, Or maybe long before,
When the 1st American casualty,
fell on these now ancient shores.

They wear tri corner hats, coonskin caps and kepis,
wide brimmed cowboy hats, steel helmets and berets,

But just the same, They belong to us.
It is from us they came.

Through mists of time and place,
They've come to stand and wait
for those to come, and come they will,

To the Sentinels at the gates.

They wait…They wait.
One day they'll welcome me.

For once I was with them,
and privileged that to be

a soldier for my country,
that's the best to say of me.

Father, son, husband, brother,
Important things these are,
But to stand with men of honor,
Is a better thing by far.

For without such men of honor,
ready to give their most,
what father, son, or brother,
would be left with any hope,

That there would even be tomorrow, for this Nation proud.

Lest men as these we find, fit my Country for a shroud.
Yes there they all are waiting, they're all together now
from every war and conflict, shot and shell they found.
At peace eternal wait they now,

On holy, hallowed ground.

How can we ever thank them, these selfless angels past?

But thanks are unimportant,
unless we dedicate
our every waking moment

To the sentinels at the gate.

For there they stand awating,
watching how well we do.

Will we let slip away,
That which they loved so well
Their full measured honored duty,
Will we so cheaply sell?

Yes there they stand awating, they're all together now,

They know some soldier stands at ready
and he will show them how.

Then they'll welcome him, as they all once were called:

"Brother, home my brother,
See your name upon the wall."

"You have done what was your duty,
The load you proudly bare"

"Is left to them to carry,
Those others, over there."

"So take your place beside us, hang your cap upon the tree,"

"And wait not long you Sentinel, In time you too will see,
Another coming to the gates,
That others will live free."

Without you Standing Sentinel, and ever must you be.
Without you Standing Sentinel, not one would long live free.


Anonymous said...

I am the author of the poem, 'Sentinel At The Gates.' This poem came about as a tribute to a Viet Nam War widow who, many tears after the war still carried grief for her fallen soldier, a medic with the infantry. To somewhat assuage her grief, I compiled the poem and was later much gratified to learn the the Memorial Day Project at Arlington Cemetery had picked it up. Even more gratifying was the friendship that developed between myslef and the woman,whom I have never met personally, who had picked up her life and moved on as best you can under such cercumstances, to marry again, have three wonderful daughters and a number of grandchildren and also became a successful children's author. Her name is CJ Heck.

Anonymous said...

A "LRRP's in contact" call over the radio net would send ripples through Artillery FDAC (Fire Direction And Control) bunkers. Batteries of big guns with names like, "Bad News," "Cold Sweat" and "Canned Heat" would elevate their tubes, shove 'Joe's' into their breeches, and pack powder awaiting the pull of the lanyard that would commence a Ranger fire mission. Life and death was on the line. Air assets mustered - pilots and crew chief's flight checked their ships, door gunners checked their weapons, jet turbines whined and Huey slicks with the doors removed lifted into the sky on the leading edge of wings that chopped at the air. Night or day, in bad weather and clear, another impossible feat of airmanship would be performed by 4th Infantry Division air crews who earned undying admiration from the Rangers whose lives they saved every day by simply doing what they were trained to do: 'Fly the mission.'

On the other side of eternity rest the fallen of Vietnam's battlefield, forever 'youthful and strong, loving and loyal,' and there they look back on a nation that betrayed itself out of a generation of heroic influence - and lost something of itself in the process. 35 K Company/75th Infantry LRRP's and Rangers died in the line of duty in Viet Nam, 10,000 miles from home and in defense of the liberty of another race of man. These intrepid young men had made the ultimate sacrifice.

They didn't return home to teach the finer and the ordinary points of life to the children they didn't father and weren't there to do so for the children they had. They did not return to mature in their lives and take their places in the towns, farming communities, and cities they came from. They didn't live to bury their parents, see their children marry, coach little league, run for town council, or influence events they never saw. For them, there were no parades, no 4th of July picnics, school plays, concerts, or recitals. They died 'forever young,' and forever in the heroic pose known to a choice few in the history of human events: as defenders of what is right and true and worth defending.

In a massive contradiction that has affected every generation of Americans since, the veterans of Viet Nam were labeled fools for going, barbaric for participating, and somehow inadequate for losing. Yet, as history has proved, the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen, living and died who served in Viet Nam achieved a moral triumph. What they did lives on as a privileged inheritance from those taught by long example that to achieve liberty is rare, to keep it, costly.

The anti-war movement in America was neither pacifist nor anti-war, but it was an integral part of the Communist ‘Unified Front’ established by Ho Chi Minh. Those who protested the war own a portion of that dubious victory they helped the North Vietnamese Army achieve in South East Asia. The gulag re-education camps in South Viet Nam, the bloodbath of millions in Cambodia, millions more of refugees who fled communism, and the continued ethnic cleansing of Montagnard and Hmong Laotian hill people by Communist forces are your legacy. We did all we could to prevent those things from happening.

The battlefield in Viet Nam was not lost. It was abandoned to the darkness, but not by those who fought and died there for freedom, for Viet Nam, and for each other.

John Puzzo, Plainville, Connecticut, May 15, 2009.
Viet Nam War Veteran and Iraq War Veteran (DoD Contractor)