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Phillip E. Carpenter

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When Johnny Comes Marching--
by Phillip E. Carpenter
Friday, January 31, 2003

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Johnny didn’t want to go to war
His Dad had been through it before
Told him it wasn’t really very nice
But freedom and peace always had a price
“How come me, and all us American Guys?”
Johnny asked his Dad with puzzled eyes.
Dad shook his head and sadly replied,
“Because we care and right is on our side.”

And Mom wrung her hands and tried not to cry.

“But, Dad, I don’t even know the people over there.”
“Son, they’re just like us but are treated unfair.
Their rulers on a whim kill them out of hand,
and vowed to kill us here too, in our own land.
We can go fight them now and end it for a time,
or do nothing but talk and pretend it’s all fine.
But sooner or later we know the day will come
when another deadly attack will happen here, my son.”

And Mom wrung her hands and tried not to cry.

Johnny nodded. “Okay, now I understand.
Don’t want those cowards killing us in our land.
Need to free those oppressed people over there too.
Like you said, it’s the right thing to do.”
Dad hugged his son and said, Well, now,
when you joined the Guard you made a vow.
To defend our nation and our way of life
even in strange foreign lands full of strife.
So be proud of what you’re about to do,
And we’ll both pray that God protects you.”

And Mom wrung her hands and tried not to cry.

Johnny went off, saying, good-bye, so long
And his troop marched off to a marching song.
Finally mustered with thousands of young men
Who also wondered if they’d get home again.
Preparing for battle they trained in Kuwait
The die was cast, the hour getting late.
In a letter to home, Johnny hastily wrote
in his tent by flashlight just a simple note.
“Don’t worry folks, I know I’ll be all right.
Wish me well and good luck, for tomorrow we fight.”
That’s all I have time to say, so I’ll just say good-bye.

And Mom wrung her hands and tried not to cry.

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Reviewed by Thomas Sutherland 3/5/2003
Thought it was going to be another anti-war poem but it's not, is it? I figured it out, finally, it's ambiguous, yet true, just like life. You did an excellent job of showing both sides, which is refreshing among all the policial agenda writings now. Nothing is simple, except for people with simple minds.
Reviewed by Calendula Petal (Reader) 2/9/2003
I couldn`t bear way
To say goodbye to my son knowing he might never come home mustbe one of the most heartwrenching things a parent can do.
Your words are tender and beautiful.
Reviewed by H. Nishiyama 1/31/2003
Your poetry shows great insight and talent. I am impressed with all your work and want to congratulate you on your recent national award. You deserve it. -Hidetaka
Reviewed by Lisa Hilbers 1/31/2003
Great write Phillip,,but oh so sad, I know there will be many Mothers wringing their hands and trying not to cry,,and I know that there will be many that will not be left the choice,,,,Lisa
Reviewed by john zimmerman 1/31/2003
the total volumne of 'eve of battle letters' ever written by american soldiers is how great?

each one full of idealism, patriotism and yankee doodlely doo...the lures that bring young men to die for old men's greed, pride,
and cynicism.

good write

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