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One War: Two Battles of the Soul

It is the Veteran

A boy, so innocent, so young

Hairless face, naïve in every way, got a letter one day.

Little could he know how he would change in every way.


Sent to a land he never knew

Where a week is a year, and a day, a week.

Dreadful and scared, he found in himself what he’d never known.

The jungle became him, the sweat never left,

A beast came to dwell in his soul.

Blood was its’ hunger, survival its’ scent.


His eyes would tear from the flesh so near.

“Why?” He asked, “Why am I here?”

My innocence gone, now an animal lurks there.


Then back home, the flesh that was torn starts to heal,

But the soul that was ravaged seeks answers

That refuse to appear.

The night is so long it brings to the core,

That wound, so deep, so wrong…

A scream so loud it cannot be heard.


The noise of the fights that rage inside

Subside at dawn but return each night. And yet…another wound,

Unseen and unfelt, begins its deadly assault.


For a river is dying and grass cannot grow.

Today, for this soldier, a new war is waged

And the front lays ahead - a point not known.

For cancer has joined the attack and the beast hungers again;

A day is a year, an hour a week.

A battle for the soul that finds no relief…


A soul; so young…so old


This poem was written by a Yakima, WA Vietnam Veteran; a ‘grunt’ for four months, then a door gunner on a Huey slick during Lam Son 719. Combat wounded in Vietnam, years later he survived stage 4 cancer after a 9 month hospitalization in the Seattle, WA, VA Hospital. He is a founder of the Yakima Veterans Support Group. Through all this, to God , be the Glory.

It is the VETERAN, not the preacher, who has given us freedom of religion.


It is the VETERAN, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.


It is the VETERAN, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.


It is the VETERAN, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to assemble.


It is the VETERAN, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.


It is the VETERAN, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote.


It is the VETERAN, not the protester, who has given us the right to burn the flag.


It is the VETERAN, who respects and salutes the Flag, who serves under the Flag, whose coffin is draped by the flag!


– Author Unknown


We salute all of our service members.