An American Boy

August 26, 2008
He was an American boy Just turned 18, as young as a sapling and at heart, just as green.
He’d been told of a war on some foreign shore faraway from home where he’d be all alone, but his temptation to fight was too much to ignore.
He called Uncle Sam and said, “Ship me to ‘Nam.” I’ll fight for my country in fire and rain. I’ll stand all the pain.
So with a letter from a sweetheart and a packet of smokes, he headed to the fort with no parades, goodbyes or floats.
There they told him about Napalm, Agent Orange, giant snakes.
They told him of jungles, bamboo, and towns without names.
Of snipers, grenades, of shrapnel that left men walking with canes.
Then he plunged into a jungle, dropped by a roaring machine,
With a packet of smokes and a new M-16.
The horrors that he saw lived after in his dreams.
Screams of mortars, bullets and men, smell of napalm, dense jungle sweat,
Lives ended, but wills never bent.
Long days and longer nights,
Confident that what he did was right. Knowing that his men were fighting the good fight.
His justice he kept longer than most,
Never needing,
Never wanting,
Never willing to boast.
Months later he left, too much shrapnel in his neck, the result of a left side no one had bothered to check.
He headed back, met no parades, hellos or floats, and met only a few welcome home notes.
Glory waited 60 long years, defeated the criticism, the hippies, the jeers.
60 years later, he sat an old man, grandchildren at his feet, children at hand.
They listened with glee to his stunning victory in a town with no name, years before.
They admired his tales of valor and honor, got more excited with each cigarette he lit.
60 years later now, here does he sit.
Never the same, but content without blame.
Scarred, but not broken.
Content, but not blank.
Still in his dreams, defending left flank.

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