"Good night, Dad," I watched my father,
As he climbed the stairs to go to bed;
"Good night, son," he softly answered,
With a vague salute to his white head.
I waved back from my big chair,
But Dad's wave was more salute;
He learned that sixty years ago,
As a World War II recruit.
The story goes ... Dad was eighteen,
When World War II broke out;
About the age my son is now,
Too young to know what life's about.
I think I know how I would feel,
If they drafted my young son;
I suppose my grandfolks felt the same,
December Seventh, Nineteen Forty-one.
Dad seldom talked about the war,
But I remember, as a kid,
Once I asked him where he went,
And what it was he did.
He said, "Someday, son, I'll tell you,
When you're old enough to know,
About the battlefields I fought on,
And the bloodshed I saw flow."
And, you know, he's never told me,
I've asked time and time again;
I do know he has some medals,
In velvet cases in his den.
He used to get them out each year,
When he donned his uniform;
Parades would be held on holidays,
And Veterans would perform.
"That's my Dad," I'd point out,
As he marched proudly down the street;
His old unit reunited,
Those old guys never missed a beat.
But I wonder how he felt and thought,
When, still a boy, he went to war,
Was it just a new adventure?
Did he know what the fight was for?
He gave up his days at college,
Instead of pigskins, he had guns;
He heard no cheers for touchdowns,
Just, "Thank God, they're on the run!"
When I was just a little kid,
Sometimes Dad screamed out at night;
Mom would say, "Go back to bed,
War dreams give your Dad a fright."
My Uncle Ned was killed in France,
That was Dad's youngest brother;
Dad wouldn't talk about him much,
What I knew ... I learned from Mother.
That was the war, they said,
To end all future wars;
How many have we had since then?
I wonder ... any more?
My Dad's a gentle, quiet man,
Who won't discuss his fears or pains;
He fought for those unborn, as yet,
To insure this land remains.
There is no proper way to thank him,
That will have to come from God above;
But I can, at least, extend my hand,
In sincere respect and love.