Dead Men Marching

Today, I drove to town to participate in the Veteran's Day Parade.
It was close to freezing.
The staging area was full of people and commotion.
Cars lined the side streets.
The main streets were lined with people, bundled up kids, old people and flags
And … Yes, Today This Man Cried

There I stood with brothers from long years back
All standing proud. From Vietnam. Pride. That’s one thing we don’t lack.
Our banner read: Vietnam Veterans of America. We were a motley crew
No one in uniform -- Work clothes, old sports coats and ribbons. Not a spit-shined shoe --
A brother in a wheel chair, It was Our Nation’s Flag that he bore
Another brother carried a flag of the ribbon of that distant shore
We all displayed the colors. yellow, red and green
We were all a part of that, never-to-be-forgotten, ungodly scene
As the street started filling with women, children and men
We waited for the bands and the schools and for the march to begin.

As I looked around, I found something. Something out of place
Against the fence the POW/MIA flag leaned. In the rain, tears glistened on its face.
I walked over, like I was drawn, and the wooden staff I grasped
The years in a flash-like fire, through my blood and across my mind they passed.
It was like it would not let me go. As if it said, “You are mine.”
2000 voices cried to me to let them march with me this time.
As we took our place at the front and stepped out into the street
They grasped my hand tighter. They were IN that flag -- I heard the pounding of their feet
As the crowds on the side walks shouted, waved flags and hollered thanks
There was not a dry eye -- Not one! -- belonging to any man within our ranks.

My flag felt so heavy with the faces of thousands who never made it home,
Like a sword, I lifted it high and cried. ""You’re Not Forgotten, You’re Not Alone""
As the tears filled my eyes and the Air Force at treetop paid tribute to us all
Time, fast as lightning, passed through my mind and I did recall
All the days, in that one instant. All the faces I have not seen
And the tears started coming, in what seemed an endless stream
They were tears of sadness they were tears of pain
And every one of them, every tear had a name.
They were tears for those who never got to cry,
For all of those who only got to die.
They were tears for those who never got to see,
The faces of their loved ones they left at home when they crossed the sea.
They were tears of those left far away and alone
Those who never felt the pain of no welcome home
They were tears of thanks, for I felt somewhat at last
They were in this flag and tears, Alive and recognized it numbed the painful past.
They were tears of brothers that I never knew. They were tears for every Brother.
Yes, Brothers, they were tears for you.
For your tears and blood were left on a battlefield so very long ago.
And for you, as a man, I cry. You are in this flag. I love you so.
I see your shadows everywhere. Yes, I see them still.
On all my sleepless nights, when there is so much time to kill.

But today, as these tears I cried for you washed away the sands of time,
You marched with me. And, Brothers Never to be forgotten,
You always will be forever in: My heart. My soul. My Mind.

November 11, 2002

By Monty Fisher ETR3
USS AA Cunningham DD 752
Tonkin Gulf - North Vietnam
1966 / 1967

PO Box 3796
Sunriver, OR 97707