Mudcat Café message #2748019 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #9359   Message #2748019
Posted By: 5thgroup
19-Oct-09 - 01:08 PM
Thread Name: Songs about Vietnam War
Subject: RE: Songs about Vietnam War
Last of the three...

When Veterans Were Old Men.

Do you remember when you were a child, and a parade was so much fun?
All the veterans marching along, enjoying the walk in the sun.
We always thought of veterans then, whose wars were over and done
As aging men whose days were filled with stories of battles won.

With crippled backs and tired old faces and hands and feet so sore.
"I'll never be that old," I said. "How did they fight their war?"
But then, when we came back, so young and oh so tired,
Veterans were what they called us, then, a name we never desired.

Oh, sure they called us other things, baby-killer, murderer, thief.
But only "Veteran" finally stuck, but that was no relief.
For now we see ourselves each day, talking with others like us.
"Veteran?" Yes, but when and how did age and wear finally strike us?

The days grow short, the nights seem cold, our youth now out of reach.
We're veterans now, and so we go. Our lessons we must teach.
Each age must pay its dues, it's said. Some pay much more than others.
The highest price is paid in blood, by husbands, sons and brothers.

I look in the mirror and who do I see? My grandfather and his son.
And also peering back at me, I see, me and my own dear son.
So listen to what we have to say, Veterans we may be.
Perhaps you see old worn-out men, but remember: YOU ARE FREE!

This first part was written in 1991, as my response to being particularly struck by the youth of
Desert Storm veterans, and the age of my fellow Vietnam Veterans, as the many groups
marched in San Francisco's Welcome Home Desert Storm Parade.

On Veterans' Day, 1999, I was finally sensitized to the many women and families so
greatly affected by wars and the trials suffered at home, often in silence.
This is now the completion for the above:

For Evelyne:
And now I know and now I see the invisible veterans too.
The mothers, the daughters, and all the wives and what they had to do.
The tears that came and the tears to come, and all the pain to feel;
Of how they served, and how they hurt, and what they got from the deal.

And what of the woman later wed to a vet who was hurting so?
Of his pain, and of his trials, and his history he would never show?
Like so many men he had held it in, and never had let it flow,
And now he's gone, and now she aches, and why? She'll never know.

The tears and fears and losses borne by the ones we left back home
Were never measured and never known and were always felt alone.
We honor the men and praise their strength and salute their pain and skill,
But on no day has any town paid tribute to those who hurt so still.

For some the pain was given to them by the men they loved and knew,
For other women who lost it all, the hurt runs just as true.
So when you see those lonely eyes or the bruises deep and blue,
Remember the woman with loves lost or gone, like us, she is a veteran too.