I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze
A young Marine 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 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 nite was cold, I was ten years old
When the Chaplain made his call.
The news was bad, my mother was sad
When she heard of my fathers fall.
An ambush he said, they all were dead
The words were shocking and cold.
Eight other men died, eight other wives cried
For young men who would never grow old.
The years quickly passed, they seemed so fast
With no father to show me the way.
Yet I knew from the start, deep down in my heart
We'd be together, forever, one day.
Through the laughter and tears, the months and the years
I kept hearing "it's" far-away call.
The day was cold I was thirty years old
When my eyes first set sight on the WALL.
It seemed ancient yet knew, as if somehow on cue
When I saw it the Earth became still
And my memory once gray, became focused that day
Of a man who now suddenly seemed real.
No more tears filled my eyes, no more lifetime of "whys"
All the answers I'd found in this place.
With the touch of his name gone was sorrow and pain
And bad memories were quickly erased.
As I stared into the black, my father stared back
And he smiled and my heart filled with joy
I said: "welcome home, dad, what a journey you've had."
He said: "It's sure great to be home, my boy!"
copyright 1995 by Kelly Strong