Sacrifice didn't end "In Country"

Albert Cherer

One hundred nine years 
Passed between freedom's victory
And your defeat.
Never in my wildest dreams
Did I think the two
Would merge as one
On the lawn of one of the players
Beaten then over a century ago
That was over twenty two years ago
Like all kids
I believed things never change
Now many I love are gone
No amount of wanting it different
Stopped them from going on
Kept things the way I demanded
How do all these things go together?
I found myself thinking as I walked miles
Hobbled, my own end peeking around corners
Well at first glance I realized you left behind two parents
With decades to think where they went wrong
I was older than you; I did not know this
Holding you then to standards I learned only now
Southeast Asia: Your father had to have been there
Too many clues to think otherwise.
How could he think the danger was here, 10,000 miles away
Isn't it always this way with sacrifice?

It extends far beyond what can be seen
How your parents must grieve
Over opportunities lost
How many birthdays did he miss?
Crawling in the red dust of foreign soil.
To do all this and be ridiculed as a fool
I was the fool!
Now I can see
When your world is so weak
A child tries to act strong
But we are not antelope or deer
Or some other fast of foot
Our young find strength in speed of image
This is what brought you down
"You are the company you keep"
How could you really know that then?
One with a murderous sickness so deep would betray you
With smug satisfaction I cherished your insults
Thinking about your just desserts
Food for worm and maggot
Revenge is the poison
I was the one wounded
You were safe with 
The Father of all mercy
Oh, in no way did he like what you were doing
When your heart collapsed long ago
But labels are our's not his

In fact until today,
At least regarding this matter
I was much more in danger than you
I put on uniform for God and Country
For a short time
The sacrifice of your father
And of all fathers lived in me
So in this panorama of tour mobiles and jet planes
I came to seek your forgiveness
For hating what I did not understand
In fact isn't that the essence of all evil?
How to merge things, not a poem to sell but proclaim
My greatest sin has not been avarice or lust
No I seethe in being the victim
Because of this I rejoiced at your downfall
Wanting to dance upon your remains
Tell the girls we competed for
This is what you get trying to be a new Jesse James
All because once you called me a name
With a grin on your smiling face
Then I thought your passing one of my few triumphs
Now, today, I am seeking forgiveness
At not letting myself understand
That this was a sacrifice of your father
One too often kept secret from this nation

For truly to see your son die
Because too often you could not hold him
To have him see you ride your bike the first time
All at once I knew
At first I was not going to go there
Yet, passing the sacred place of the Unknown
What should have been obvious hit me
This was not a matter of a few lost people
A few no one could figure out
No they were only symbols
A mile I must of walked
A grand panorama of our symbols
Then off to the side in an area of no interest to tourists
The truth hit me over the head
Hundreds of rows marked: " Unknown "
Most of these from just before that April long ago
The Anniversary you died on
It is not because of handshakes or favors we still are
First is the Grace of God we have not all perished in atomic fire
Being just a little bit older I remember that time did you?
No, your father like my father and myself
Came to realize a world bigger than ourselves
Many times shaken
Especially before so many April Ninths ago
All these men in blue
Lying here simply because of blood tainted blue clothing

Did they fight so I might enjoy a lifetime laughing
Saying at least that one got what he deserved
No, shamefully I must admit I love my anger
I hope today the Our Father I said with you
Will heal a fight between brothers
I wish more people could come here: alone without camera
There are no spooks or demons here
Although real, their realm is this life time
Names such as avarice, poverty, and tyranny adorn them
No, in this cynical time
It is said that no one believes in anything
Tens of thousands of stones say otherwise
Of course in the fullest sense
Most of these people did not die
In the heat of battle as you did
The battle your earthly parents must always fight
No matter when the time comes tho, old or young
Let this be our resounding canon:
To reject ideas that there is no hope borne on these
Early autumn winds amidst the trees and beacons of our freedom

53-962 by A. Cherer Copyright 1996 all rights reserved

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Added 9/28/96