To walk the fields of Yesterday,
to tread the ground where legions lay
in ghastly throes of death and pain,
or mayhap walk a bloody lane,
This seems the lure for those who come,
to look and talk and ponder some.
Here curled the tattered flags of old,
as blood-slick hands fierce kept their hold.
Here fell the brave and gallant dead,
here and here, our heroes bled.
That field once held a thund'rous host;
This place, some say, is cold with ghosts.
And yet... there's more. Now stand and hush.
Listen, watch, be still ~ you must!
Across the mist of endless days
a whisper drifts it errant way.
To just a few the light touch falls,
the tap of time, the Past's faint call.
Do you see past the flags and glory?
Do you see the simpler story?
Gaunt, stern boy and fierce-eyed man,
the officer with cold, chilled hands,
who faced across the bayonet
to honor, shame or random death.
Do you see there, the hearth of home,
where bride or mother waits alone ~
Is he to home or heaven sent?
Or look, the colonel in his tent;
A single lamp, a well-worn pen,
and hidden tears for his good men.
If this you see, ah, yes, and more,
then wait, and bide, and listen more.
For 'yond the shadows' pressing hush
they smile and reach a hand ~ to us!
For you remember who they were,
the dreams they held, and how they served.
Just this they ask, the simplest thing;
a thought, a tear, a pray'r's soft wing.
To be remembered, not in stone,
but by the same flesh they once owned.
To know that, by the Good Lord's grace,
we know them by both heart and face.
Their names are often lost to time,
their graves unmarked by stone or pine.
But we reach out across the bar
to all they were, and all they are.
And gently as a brother's touch
our hands will clasp ~ yes, they to us!
G. M. Atwater, aka "WuzReb"
In Camp at Holbrook Junction, NV
June 8, 2000
(copyright ©G. M. Atwater, June 2000)