(click: hear the voice behind the words)
As Memorial Day approaches, a poem in tribute to those who serve.
Signaling fame, however ephemeral
cast in the communality of the iron of endurance
bred by those who walked before him.
He did not know them.
In fact, many have long since been forgotten.
As will he, when his pins are left discarded
in a tiny felt lined box
in the attics of memory
where the nuisances of unimportance
are moved with a shambling gate
from one corner to another.
Then one day, the curiosity of youth stumbled upon the box –
Blew the dust into the air, opened the lid
and aired the memories of forgotten ideals
cast aside by the arrogant certainty of purpose,
so much a part of the youth’s father.
The grandson’s eyes lit up with undoubting gleam –
the brilliance of hope – of endurance beyond adversity.
He grasped the pins and wore them to school the next day –
and into the school yard.
From thence, he set his course as if for mankind
to achieve some deed beyond his means.
As he grew, he treasured those ideals and pins.
Walked steadfast in his grandfather’s footsteps with pride.
For humanity he eventually touched this terrestrial sphere ever so
When he breathed his last sigh, they placed the pins on his lapel
and put a folded flag at his fingertips.
Before they closed the lid, his son removed the pins –
and they gave him the flag.
And – as was the custom – with complacent smugness and disdain -
the pins were thereafter sold at the next garage sale.
This poem is included in my book,
“I Have His Letters Still”, Poetry of Everyday Life.