I have a request -- a friend and fellow biker (who's riding with me to D.C. for Rolling Thunder this May) has a poem I'd like to submit. I got his permission to post it. Mike's making the run to D.C. for healing. He trained B52 and F4 pilots from '71 through '78 but suffers from guilt for not being in-country. I told him this poem would help others heal dealing with the same feelings.


Morning, Roger.

A friend of mine just got his new Dyna Low Rider last Saturday, and we will probably try to put a few miles on it this weekend. (Like I told you, any excuse to ride!!! - Ha.)

About the poem. Never considered myself very good at this kind of stuff; but the more you and I talked about the run and the more I thought about it, the more I felt like I had to get something on paper that could describe how I felt. I have always had trouble dealing with this, and I sometimes wonder if I have earned the right to ride with these guys...

Here is what I wrote. No one else has seen this, so I have no feedback as to its "poetic" quality; but I do think that it accurately describes what I have to deal with on this trip.

Ride Safe,

I Wasn't There

I wasn't there to hear your cries

And see the looks of fear

As rockets whined and bullets flew

And sounds of death drew near.


You're fighting on some distant shore

A place I'll never see,

Your blood was shed for all who stayed

It's hard to say 'twas me.


I wasn't there close by your side

To share the pain you knew,

But in my heart I feel today

The hurt that you still do.


Forever grateful I will be

To ones I cannot tell,

I shed a tear for those today

Who for my freedom fell.


But now I ride to honor you,

My brothers brave and true;

Oh God I wish I couldn't say

I wasn't there for you.

copyright © December 1998 by Mike Sumrall, all rights reserved

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