The Soldier: A Poem

The Soldier: A Poem

Not a broken man, not a broken soldier.
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You were just a young man when you left,

The world was bright before you,

All you had to do was reach out and grab it,

It was yours but it was not meant to be,

Your nation called.


And at their time of need you stepped up to the call,

You put on your uniform with pride,

Stepped onto that plane and did not look back,

Was it your choice to make,

Or was it the lives of your fellow men?


You went to the place they call hell on Earth,

Vietnam,

That place was hell,

Hell on Earth but you were there for your country,

They told you what you were doing was right,

They told you it was for your country,

But was it worth it?


Was it worth all the pain,

You came back expecting a hero’s welcome,

Instead you got pushed around,

Names were spat your way,

"Baby killer."


These names were worse than the war,

Memories flood back to you as you walk down the streets,

The smell never leaves your nose,

The sounds never leaves your ears,

The scars never leave your body,

But you can not show your wounds.


For the public jeers at you,

“You deserved what you got,”

They scream,

They spit,

They tear your uniform apart.


You traded the war on foreign soil for a war at home,

Your nation lied to you,

You fought bravely but got nothing in return,

Everyday you think no one will love you.


One day you find her,

She fixes your wounds,

Gives you children,

You're happy for once.


Everything seems right,

Everything seems normal for once,

You have a family of your own,

But it’s still there;


The scars of the war,

They never leave you alone,

Blame it on the alcohol,

Blame it on the baggage,

But one mistake takes your happiness away.


One day you’re a father,

The next you’re a prisoner,

Not only behind the bars of the justice system,

But behind the bars of a war ravaged mind,

No one can save you.


They can not save you from what you did,

You search deep inside yourself,

You find the soul of a broken man,

The soul of a soldier who did not give his life in the form of death,

The soul of a soldier who gave his life in the form of living.


Now behind the bars of your own mind,

And the bars of your own nation,

You receive a letter from a child,

A child who calls you grandpa.


She loves you unconditionally,

She does not know your past,

She does not know your mistakes,

She knows you're her hero even if you do not know yourself.


The child of innocence grows up,

She’s always on your mind,

She’s your little pixie,

The letters she writes stop one day.


Maybe she found out,

She found your past,

She stopped like everyone else,

Your only family is gone.


The pixie does not understand,

She’s to innocent and naive to understand,

You do not blame her for not writing,

You do not blame her mother for telling her your past.


The years pass in a slow painful blur,

The same thing everyday,

Sending cards to people who never answer back,

Writing letters that never get answered.


Christmases,

Easters,

Birthdays,

They all pass without a word,

Then one day a letter from her arrives.


Your pixie is back,

She pleads that she is sorry,

She’s been busy with her growing life,

She tells you about school,

It’s her last year in high school.


She talks about the military,

How she wanted to join,

How she wanted to be like you,

She explains that she’s going to college instead.


Things came up,

She’s sad but you tell her it’s all right,

You used to be like her,

A young man with so many dreams,

Growing up naive to the world,

Not knowing the horror that is out there.


You explain to her,

You do not want her to go to war,

You plead with her,

Stay home please,

You hope she understands.


Your sweet little pixie is all grown up,

Than you hear something,

Something you never thought you’d hear,

"You’re my hero grandpa,"

She writes to you.


"You’re my hero grandpa,"

You look at the letter,

It repeats in your head,

"You’re my hero grandpa,"

You do not understand.


She loves you even with your mistakes,

You’re past does not matter,

She loves you no matter what,

"You’re my hero grandpa,"

You tell her you do not understand.


But,

"You’re my hero grandpa,"

It is all she has to say,

Your pixie,

Your sweet innocent pixie,

She comes to see you.


The broken man that you are,

She sees you for the first time in so long,

"You’re my hero grandpa,"

It goes through your head again.


She loves you,

No matter your past,

No matter your mistakes,

The soldier who came back was different from the man who left.


He came back broken,

Not in body,

But in mind,

The war ravaged mind,

The memories that never left.


The smells that always stayed,

The sounds that woke you up at night,

That’s what came back from the war,

She changed it all.


With four simple words,

"You’re my hero grandpa,"

She was able to fix you,

"You’re my hero grandpa,"

You leave this world,


Not a broken man,

Not a broken soldier,

The war did not make you,

The love of one person made you,

Your sweet innocent pixie.


You’re my hero grandpa.

- Adrianna Baker

Cover Image Credit: Business Insider

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