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Beth Anderle

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We Were Soldiers
by Beth Anderle

Tuesday, October 02, 2012
Rated "PG" by the Author.
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Recent poems by Beth Anderle
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As a vet myself, and after working with a number of combat vets from WWII through Iraq and Afghanistan, I've been moved by the emotions these men and women experience. I wrote this poem for a Vietnam veteran's funeral.

We were soldiers once.

We left our lives
(Or the best years of them) 
In Germany, In France,
In Bosnia, and Afghanistan,
In Korea and Kuwait,
Vietnam, Somalia,
And Iraq.

On beachheads and in bunkers,
In foxholes and fields,
In choking desert sandstorms,
And steamy jungles
We fought and cussed and scrapped for every inch,
Died and lived, grateful for another day.
We mourned those that were wounded, those that died, and those who wished they had.
We stood at the graves of fallen comrades
And remembered the ones who never came home.

We gave our hearts and our dreams and our lives
That others might love and dream and live,
Hoping against all hope each time that this would be
The final war
The final conflict
The final unremembered action in some God-forsaken land.

And then -
Scorned as killers
Or
Welcomed home as heroes, we
Buried the past in distant countries
(Or in the cemeteries of our minds),
Returned,
And tried to go back to the business of living.

And
If we weren’t always what the world wanted us to be
No matter.
We knew who we were.
We held our heads high.
Kept our honor ‘til the end and after.

Long after the world has forgotten our names, our battles, and our wars,
When our dust and ashes have been blown and scattered to the universe that held us dear
We will remember –  we will never forget

That we were soldiers once.

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