Milford Veterans Day Poem (2016)

November has come in a cloak of gray
and amid the harvest and proud display
of leaves changing and falling away
the town has gathered with no delay
to honor their son who's found his way
back from the battlefield- let us pray
and honor him on this Veteran's Day.

That's my boy, look at him
there in uniform proper and prim.
I can't forget the day he answered the call
to shoulder the burden and fight for us all.
I was scared but proud to see him go.
Even happier when I learned he was coming home.
He was met with pomp and revelry
but he's quieter than he used to be.
I'm not worried, war's made him a man
and men avoid talkin' as much as they can.
That's my boy shaking hands with the mayor.
That's my boy in front of everyone there.
My boy is a hero through and through.
I bet his blood runs red, white, and blue.

And he stood before them tall and proud
And listened to their cheers so loud
And tried to smile to please the crowd
But could not see through the swirling cloud,
of thoughts marauding through his brain un-cowed,
the words he would never speak aloud:

I am not a hero.
I'm just a guy with a job,
possibly the hardest job in the world.
I am not a hero.
Just a kid who wanted to get out
of his hometown and see the world.
It's hard to feel heroic
when I've seen my friends
get pulverized into hamburger
while standing by,
trying to keep my lunch down and
not get blown to bits myself.
I came marching home,
but what about Darius, Diego, or Sue
or the rest of Uncle Sam's children?
Instead of draping their arms
around their families,
they draped a flag
over the last place
they'll lay their heads.
I came marching home but
I'm not whole anymore.
I traded a piece of myself
for a head full of nightmares.
It could be worse-
I could have been like my brothers and sisters, who
lost eyes, thumbs, entire limbs as
they did their patriotic chore.
Even as I shake the mayor's hand and stand
before my family, my community, and
the watchful eyes of God,
I do not feel like a hero.
All I feel is gratitude–
They have not seen what I have seen.
They have not done what I have done.
And that is its own reward.