Veterans Day (2013) by Bradley Mason Hamlin

working
in the “cold war”
days
I only realize now
Reagan was
too damn good
to us

even though
we drilled for battle
out to sea
on a constant
combat level readiness
almost never sleeping
and a few good sailors
died
battling
the raging ocean …

most of us
were pretty sure
the Russians
weren’t going to do
jack shit
because
we were so goddamned
badass
and more importantly
too youthful
to give a damn

but looking
back on all those
amphibious operations
hitting the beach
with the LCM-8 “mike boat”
as the machine guns
blasted hell out of the shore
and retracting back
through the surf …

I only wish
I had greater appreciation
for our actions
and all the endless
summers of hard work
my shipmates endured
right then
while I was in the mix

instead of
always waiting
for my next rum drink
or dreaming
of the perfect blonde
in my future …

well,
that was necessary
for survival, too
but as you get older

you
learn quickly
how time floats away
on an ever-quickening tide

and
you will ultimately
be judged

mostly by your self

for
everything
you’ve ever done

so
maybe you could have
worked harder
out in the salt
or in college
or even
in your
80’s punk band

spent
more quality time
with your kids
or let your wife
really know
she is the heartbeat
in all the best
moments combined

you
could/can always
do more
be more
work harder
pray to gods unknown
for all the answers
and work even harder
when you don’t
hear back from Heaven

but
there was a time
when you were young
immortal
took the punches
kept swinging
got back up again

and
somehow
traveled
thousands of leagues
into
the mysterious
future

where
children laugh
because
they are time machines
taking your dna
into

the
next good adventure

all
made possible
by those brave
Americans
who fought
all the wars before me
and everything
after

we
tore down
that wall.

4 Responses to “Veterans Day (2013) by Bradley Mason Hamlin”

  1. Youth and then wisdom, I understand it so much better when you write it.

  2. This poem really spoke to me, both about the invulnerable feelings we have when young and about the men I knew who went to Vietnam. My husband went on a navy supply ship, his brother, as a G.I. In Hawaii where all three branches of the service had bases we met men coming and going constantly. Thank you for this poem.

  3. Thank you, Bradley, for this poem.

    Winnie

  4. This one made me cry.

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