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Boys of War

Behind the surplus store / the army helmets cover an acre of ground. / Worn by young heads, boys became men.

You were the foot soldiers / with hard won victories. / Allied battleships placed you there / to fight with fearless might.

Through the enemy glider bombers, / torpedo planes, jamming of radios, / you stayed the course. / While wounded transferred to shore hospitals, / you, a mighty force, view the dead, / burned-out tanks, armored cars, / gun carriers, twisted and still.

Where were you, boys of war...? / In the stifling heat with jungle malaria, / or in some frozen quiet hell.

The ebb tide through the jungle you fought. / Lost in New Guinea, or in the Burma raid, / you all came. / Did you serve with Patton in Tunisia, / escape from Java, survive the Philippines? / Those were the glorious deeds of the gallant bound.

Heroic exploits in the theater of conflict / You came, you served. / Fair heads from all walks of life, / from Idaho, Texas, and New York, / from the Indian Reservations, / and the Deep South, / called to duty from safe harbors.

I will remember the sea of helmets / worn by boys, / when boys became men. / Some came home / while others still lie buried in foreign ground.

Seeing the acres of helmets, / I pause, my heart quickens, / tears blur the images. / I take you all in with soberness, humility, / and gratitude.

You are a heart beat away. / In this twilight silhouette, I will never forget. / You won’t be alone / You blessed boys of war are finally home.

Ruth Swaner


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