Thursday, November 16, 2006

FORGETTING, OUR GREAT SHAME; DENYING, OUR GREAT SIN.



THE FORGOTTEN MERCHANT MARINE
by Walter Drew

Over a half century has passed and we've yet to be told.
About the men on the ships who carried more than their load.

The first Americans to die even before the war was declared,
Loving fathers and sons, hardly any were spared.

More seamen perished, more than any other branch it is said.
One seamen out of thirty-two gave his life and is now dead.

Yet children lost fathers and mothers lost sons.
Wives lost their husbands before the conflict was won.

No military honors were bestowed on these men.
No mention of heroism was ever told to their kin.

No parades or open arms met them back home.
Only ridicule and scorn and sarcasm the tone.

That dark cloud of disrespect still hangs and it looms.
It has taken over fifty years to try heal these wounds.

Yet loved ones still mourn and the injured still ache.
They have given up wondering if this is some kind of mistake.

The scars still remain, the story is untold.
They ask not for themselves the honor to be bestowed.

They ask for their comrades who gave their life to the ocean.
So their relatives at home can remember them with devotion.



THE LONLIEST DEAD
by M.C. Middlebrooks

They are the loneliest dead who rest beneath the waves
In graves unmarked, unknown. The bugle's soft farewell,

As taps say, "We remember", touches not their sleep.
Why should the forgotten listen to its poignant, haunting spell?

Where the white lines of crosses lie in ordered rows,
The fields are green and cherished, each cross bears a name,

Identifying valor and honoring its repose --
A land has pledged itself these dead shall live in fame.

But the long, slow convoys that grimly took
Their losses so that some might batter through

Sailed in quiet and secrecy; their dead may look
In vain for a salute from those who never knew.

Yet when the bugle blares the call for that last review,
And the great regiments sweep past the mighty dead,

Grouped round Washington, bearing flags that flew
On every battlefield where patriots blood was shed.

Will the weary thousands in tattered dungarees
Hang back ignored as they have been so long?

No. Eyes that have seen their country driven nigh its knees
And led it back to victory can judge that silent throng.

They shall march to a tune that has the deep slow beat
Of waves on a rocky shore, their banner shall proudly bead

The legend, "We held the balance 'twixt victory and defeat,
But when our armies needed them, the goods were there."

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