Sentiments of World War II and other wars.


I shall be coming back to you
When winter turns to spring;
When sunshine warms the heart again
And stirs each living thing.

I shall be knocking at your door,
I'll look into your eyes;
And life again will seem to us
A beautiful surprise.

The garden swing will beckon us,
The woods and lakes will call;
And when the sun goes down,
the night will loan her starry shawl.

Our hands will touch and we shall walk
Familiar paths once more.
For us the world again will be
The way it was before.

The moon will rise above the clouds
To smile his welcome then;
And I shall take you in my arms,
And kiss your lips again.
-- Pvt. Russell Brown
Puptent Poet -- WWII

The poem above comes from a book of "Puptent Poetry" written by combat soldiers
in WWII, and was sent in with many thanks to AWON member Bill Kynoch.

Freedom Isn't Free

I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze
A young soldier saluted it, and then
He stood at ease.

I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud
With hair cut square and eyes alert
He'd stand out in any crowd.

I thought, how many men like him
Had fallen through the years?
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers' tears?

How many pilots' planes shot down?

How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldiers' graves?
No, Freedom is not free.

I heard the sound of taps one night,
When everything was still.
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.

I wondered just how many times
That taps had meant "Amen"
When a flag had draped a coffin
Of a brother or a friend.

I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.

I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No, Freedom isn't free.

The poem above is Copyright 1981, Kelly Strong
sent in by AWON member Brenda Kightlinger.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

-- by Major John McCrae,
on the Western Front, May 1915

This poem, taken from "Welcome to Flanders Fields", by Daniel G. Dancocks, McClelland and Stewart (Toronto, Canada), 1988, was noted to us by AWON Member Jack Forgy, who led us to the poem's history.

Poppy seeds lie dormant for years in fallow ground, and only when the ground is plowed or uprooted will the seeds spring to life. And so it was on the Western Front of WWI, where artillery shells so pock-marked the landscape that the poppies grew as rarely seen. About a year after writing the poem, Major McCrae was killed in action.

Click here for three poems "in answer"
to Major McCrae's original

A Chronogram about the American
Military Cemetery at Margraten, Holland

The chronogram above was made in 1994 by D. W. Jacobs, of Heerlen, Holland for the 50th Memorial Day Ceremony of Margraten, the Netherlands, May 29, 1994.

Mr. Jacobs says the wording (in English, below) is written from the perspective of a soldier who is buried at Margraten, and he gave a copy of the chronogram (including the date in Roman Numerals) to every veteran he could find who visited the town hall of Margraten on Sunday, September 19, 1999.


Pay Attention to Us.
Watch over your Freedom....
Strong......... and United"

Many Thanks to Mr. Jacobs for his heartfelt sentiments on behalf of our Fathers, and for enlightening us with the meaning and significance of "chronograms." Thanks also to AWON member Carla Holcomb for the initial coordination with Mr. Jacobs, and for forwarding his wonderful chronogram. Carla's Father, PVT Morris Harold Kingery, is among those buried at Margraten.

The Young Dead Soldiers

The young dead soldiers do not speak.
Nevertheless they are heard in the still houses.
(Who has not heard them?)....

They say,
We were young. We have died. Remember us.

They say,
We have done what we could
But until it is finished it is not done.

They say,
We have given our lives
But until it is finished no one can know what our lives gave.

They say, Our deaths are not ours,
They are yours,
They will mean what you make them.

They say, Whether our lives, and our deaths were for peace and a new hope
Or for nothing
We cannot say.
It is you who must say this.

They say, We leave you our deaths,
Give them their meaning.

-- by Archibald MacLeish

Thanks to AWON member Gail Brown for sending this poem. She found it in gathering some memorabilia on her Father, 1LT Harry Rudolph (Rudy) Albright, from his church, Fairmont Church, in Shaker Heights, Ohio. The poem was part of an address to the congregation by Frank Halliday Ferris, at a service in memory of the men of the church who were killed in WWII.

Simone of Normandy

She kneels beside the simple grave...
A paratrooper young and brave
Upon whose final resting place
She lays a rose with tender grace.

"Rest well, my sons, the task is done:
Lie peacefully, the battle's won.
In loving memory, reverently
We keep you here in Normandy.

My promise and my prayer for you,
Beloved sons so young and true...
We shall recall your gallant fight
That sixth of June, that Glorious night!

Our sons and daughters shall be taught
The price of liberty you bought.
We, even now, remembering yet
Remind them well, lest they forget.

That all may know and all may tell...
That history may record it well.
My prayer within this hallowed place,
"Dear Alexandre, we keep the faith."

She rises slowly and with grace
Reflected glory on her face;
The glory of the fallen ones
Who came to die... her Airborne sons

From those who live and those who sleep
from multitudes whose faith you keep
From all who fought for Liberty,
Long Live The Queen Of Normandy.

-- by Ida Rogers Schlemmer


I have gone
To place myself between you
And those
Who would bring you pain.
Should I not return,
I shall sleep, quietly
Knowing that you live
In Peace.

-- by Stewart James Ritchey of Mesa, Arizona

The poem above was sent in with many thanks to AWON member Joe Ormond.

This Valentine, posted thanks to George "Pete" Higgins, Jr. was sent to him
when he was very young by his Dad, PFC George Francis Higgins, who was
KIA 16 March, 1945 in Germany, near the Rhine.

This Christmas card is posted thanks to Paula Baker. It's a copy of one that
was originally sent to Paula's Mother (in December of '44) by her Uncle
Frank Jackson, who served with the 974 Field Artillery, had been training
in England, and who went into France on D-Day +9.

Paula writes (3/7/01) that her Uncle Frank passed away this past weekend from Cancer.
He will be remembered here.

After some years in hiatus because of an internet snafoo, Linda Rarey, wife of Damon Rarey
whom we sadly lost from AWON's ranks in December of '02, reprises the unbelievable collection
of Damon's Father's art -- nose art and other musings on WWII -- much of which was done when
Damon's Father, George Rarey was with the 379th Fighter Squadron. Just click the graphic to go.

James Day of New York found the poem below on the body of a dead soldier whose
identity has never been determined.

And God Was There

Look God, I have never spoken to you,
But now I want to say "how do you do"
You see God, they told me you didn't exist,
and like a fool, I believed all this.

Last night from a shell hole, I saw your sky,
I figured right then they had told me a lie.
Had I taken the time to see things you made,
I'd have known they weren't calling a spade a spade.

I wonder God, if you'd shake my hand,
Somehow I feel that you will understand.
Funny, I had to come to this hellish place,
Before I had time to see your face.

Well, I guess there isn't much more to say,
But I'm sure glad God, I met you today.
I guess the "zero-hour " will soon be here,
But I'm not afraid since I know you're here.

The signal; well God, I'll have to go,
I like you lots, this I want you to know.
Look now, this will be a horrible fight,
Who knows, I may come to your house tonight.

Though I wasn't friendly to you before,
I wonder God, If you'll wait at your door.
Look, I'm crying. Me shedding tears,
I wish I had known you these many years.

Well, I have to go now, God, good-bye,
Strange, since I met you, I'm not afraid to die.

The dead soldier's poem was sent in by AWON Member Dave Bissaillon, whose Mother received it just after the death of his Father in April of '45.

Until We Meet Again

I did not think I could let you go
The parting would be more than I could bear
Until I looked in your dear eyes, and saw
The high undaunted courage written there

So take my love, and let it be a cloak
To cheer and warm you when the nights are chill
Take, too my heart, and you will hear it beat
Above the shriek of bullets, sharp and shrill

And I will teach my lips to wear a smile,
Hide all my fears away where none may see,
And when the glorious victory is won
I pray that God will bring you back to me.

The poem above was (probably) written by AWON member Kathleen Gordon Rowland's Mother to her Father, PVT Robert A. Gordon, who was later KIA on 18 October, 1944, near Jeanmenil, France.

Eulogy for a Veteran

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the Gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the mornings hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight,
I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die.

This poem by "Anonymous" was flagged to us by AWON Member Roger Conner.

Letter to Saint Peter

by Elma Dean

Let them in, Peter, they are very tired
Give them the couches where angels sleep.
Let them wake whole again to new dawns fired,
With sun not war. And may their peace be deep.
Remember where the broken bodies lie....
And give them things they like. Let them make noise.
God knows how young they were to have to die!
Give swing bands, not gold harps, to these, our boys.
Let them love, Peter, they have had no time -
They should have trees and birds songs, hills to climb,
The taste of summer in a ripened pear.
Tell them how they are missed. Say not to fear,
It's going to be alright with us down here.

This poem was written by Elma Dean, published in CONTRAILS, a yearbook of the 100th Bomb Group, and sent to us In Their Memory by Adrian Leist Caldwell.

There's a Gold Star in my Window

There's a Gold Star in my Window
And an ache in my heart;
There's a lonely tender, feeling
Making pent-up teardrops start.
My brave son is in Normandy:
He rests beneath her soil:
He gave his life for his country:
For you, for me; for all.

This poem was written by Mrs. A.J. Forgy, Jack Forgy's Grandmother, about his Father, LT COL Percy O'Dell Forgy, who was KIA on 27 July, 1944 in Normandy.

Untitled - Author Unknown

The soldier stood and faced his God,
Which must always come to pass,
He hoped his shoes were shining,
Just as brightly as his brass.

"Step forward now, you soldier,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To My Church have you been true?"

The soldier squared his shoulders,
and said: "No, Lord, I guess I ain't,
Because those of us who carry guns,
Can't always be a saint.

I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times I shook with fear,
And sometimes, God, forgive me,
I wept unmanly tears.

If you've a place for me here, Lord,
(It needn't be real grand,
I've never expected, or had too much),
But if you don't, I'll understand."

There was a silence around the throne,
Where the saints had often trod,
As the soldier waited quietly,
For the judgment of his God.

"Step forward now, you soldier,
You've borne your burdens well,
Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,
You've done your time in Hell."

The poem above, Author Unknown, was read on Fathers Day, June 16, 2002 at the dedication of a flagpole at a church in Missoula, Montana, in memory of Nancy Sue Johnson's Father, PFC John Riley Brown, KIA 9 March, 1945 at Luzon, Manila. It was sent in by Nancy Sue, but was originally supplied by Nick and Darlene Mott.

A quote from the New York Times bestseller "We Were Soldiers Once, and Young" by Lietenant General Harold G. Moore and Joseph Galloway:

"Their pain shimmers across the years, pure and undimmed. They pass through life with an empty room in their hearts where a father was supposed to live and laugh and love.

All their lives they listen for the footstep that will never fall, and long to know what might have been."

The quote above was forwarded by AWON Member Terry Boettcher.



We Remember Them - Author Unknown

At the rising of the sun and at its going down . . . We remember them.
At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter . . . We remember them.
At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring . . . We remember them.
At the shining of the sun and in the warmth of summer . . . We remember them.
At the beginning of the year and at its end . . . We remember them.

As long as we live, they too will live;
for they are now a part of us,
as we remember them.

When we are weary and in need of strength . . . We remember them.
When we are lost and sick at heart . . . We remember them.
When we have joy we crave to share . . . We remember them.
When we have decisions that are difficult to make . . . We remember them.
When we have achievements that are based on theirs . . . We remember them.

As long as we live, they too will live;
for now they are a part of us
as we remember them.

The above is called the Gates of Prayer -- and can be found in the Reform Judaism Prayer Book -- sent in (May 7, '04) by Mary Nelson Kenny as a "Semper Fi" in honor of PFC Garner W. Mott, KIA 7 May, 1945 on Okinawa.


A Tribute to a Fallen Father

The dog faced soldier, first in line, first to bravely march forward, knows that when he hears the roar, when he sees the lightening, when that one bullet finds its mark, his life will be torn asunder.

These brave young men, in their cover of green and brown, carry more on their shoulders than the burden of a backpack, and some metal. They tramp God's earth with feet tired and sore, praying for nightfall and silence once more.

How can he find a place to stay warm? The ground is frozen and covered with snow. His belly aches with emptiness, his bones are heavy, his heart is lonely. With luck, tonight's meal -- a cracker, something of unknown origin in a tin can, a stick of gum, and two crumpled cigarettes. But don't light it, boy! They wait for that red glow! His mind seems to wander -- his lips crack a smile. He touches the picture carried in his pocket that covers his heart: A wife, a child, and a home. Their freedom is the reason he'd give up his life.

The above was sent (Sept. 9, '05) by Shirley McKinney, following the conference in
Springfield, Illinois of her Father's 84th Infantry Division (Railsplitters), as this anonymous tribute was delivered by the Chaplain at the conference.

Do not stand at my grave and weep.

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am a diamond glint on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
I am the flower in the backyard,
Planted there with loving regard.
When you awake in the morning hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush,
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starshine at night.
Do not stand by my grave and cry.

I am not there, I did not die.

-- Anonymous

Thanks for the above, submitted (May 5, 2007) by Diane Baczynski

A French girl honors fallen American Soldiers on Memorial Day 1945. This photo is from a collection of albums concerning temporary US Cemeteries in France provided to the United States after WWII.

Submitted (Sept. '05) by Jack Forgy.

To many of the veterans in AWON, it would be hard to find a more profound sentiment for the fallen
than from Ernie Pyle's well-known story of Captain Henry Waskow on the Italian Front
in January of 1944. For the full text: Click Here!

"He stands in the unbroken line of patriots who have dared to die that freedom might live, and grow, and increase its blessings. Freedom lives, and through it, he lives -- in a way that humbles the undertakings of most men."

The above was included on Purple Hearts and other Accolades, and was signed

by Franklin Delano Roosevelt or Harry Truman. Submitted by Virginia F. (Ginny) Bugg.