My Turn Was Coming
Author: Shiloh


It wasn't cold,-
I remember that I had the driver's side window down,
so it couldn't have been Veterans' Day -
it must have been the 4th.

A cop had stopped me at the corner,
blocking traffic,
and everyone had to wait while the parade passed.
I cut my engine
but didn't really pay much attention
until the "old soldiers" came by.

A mixture of hats and helmets,
khaki, dress greens, dress blues,
a few "Ike" jackets, field jackets,
unit patches, stripes, ribbons and medals
on display...
They were marching to a cadence
that only they could hear any more.

The parade brought back fading memories
of victory parades
in France and Italy and the South Pacific.
These men were older now,
tired, overweight,
struggling to keep up with those ahead,
trying their best to keep in line,
to keep in step,
left - right, left - right...

They were turning the corner,
flag-bearers and flags,
color guard and rifles,
working like hell to do a marching movement
called a "wheel,"
where the unit turns the corner,
each line of men perfectly straight,
like the spokes of a wagon wheel.

They remembered how it was
when they were younger,
but it didn't look quite the same
as it did years before.
I remember thinking they looked so foolish
out in that street, in front of everyone.

Maybe I shouldn't have, but I felt sorry for them,
because they looked like a bunch of old men
in old uniforms that no longer fit very well,
and no one on the sidewalks really cared about them,
or what they represented,
or what they had done years ago.

I could imagine that the old soldiers
only wanted to get to the end of the parade route
and go have a few beers at the Legion Hall
or at the VFW.

A few beers would be cheap payment
for dragging their pride in the streets,-
but if they worked at it, the beers
and the old stories they would rehash
might help them forget the indignities
of getting older in a younger world.

It was nineteen seventy-two,
and I was less than half their age,
and I was trying to ignore the fact
that my turn was coming.


Comments on this poem/writing:

Dawn ( -- Thursday, May 25 2006, 09:58 pm

I'm a soldier too

I'm a soldier who loves poetry, I liked what you wrote, but you've mis-understood the vets. They are proud to walk because they still can, most vets lost limbs and were unable to march, but the ones who did did it with pride and in the names of those who couldn't be proud to one day grow older. And remember The World Really Does Care.
Shiloh ( -- Thursday, June 15 2006, 05:12 am

I'm a Disabled Vietnam Veteran

I was not saying that I feel this way today; at the time I wrote it, I was recording my feelings that I was experiencing watching the parade, and there is no disrespect intended, and I DO understand vets: I am a 100% disabled Vietnam Veteran, and have handled over 640 hours of counseling in group therapy, rap groups and one-on-one counseling. I'm sorry that you failed to understand my meaning when I wrote this; perhaps if you read it again a few times you might understand where I was coming from, and what I was saying. Peace... Shiloh
Name:                                           Remember Me

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