I Watched As He Walked By
Poem Written By PoliceLink Member Retleo
May 31, 2010
I watched as he walked by. He was old and bent, leather skinned and grizzled yet, somehow, an inner pride shone through. His eyes were tear-filled, his face the color of ash. His cap, covered in small badges and patches, sat at a jaunty angle, reminiscent of an earlier time in his life. His gnarled right hand held high against his forehead, fingers together, thumb tucked neatly beneath, a salute.
I had watched him pass by many times before, on the same day every year. Each time he passed my respect for this tired old Warrior increased in leaps and bounds. He was one among many who passed by, their ranks filled with others of similar age and demeanor but, for me, he was different. I had known him since I was a child. He had always seemed old to me, a man of limited energy and a weakness for unfiltered cigarettes but, as he walked by, he appeared to have gained some devine strength, some renewed sense of purpose.
As I grew older myself I would listen to him talking about the “Good Old Days” and would sit in awe of his tales of days gone by. He was a youngster back then, in the fields of France and the villages of Germany, yet he was a man at the age of 19. Far away from his home, his family, the country that he loved the best, yet he had left all that was a comfort to him to fight for what he thought was right, and he had volunteered to do so.
His stories would paint a picture of him that was foreign to me. That of as tough and seasoned young soldier, proud, tough, wearing three stripes on his sleeve and the wings of an Airborne Paratrooper. He had been to Hell and come back. He had seen and done things that no 19 year old should ever be subjected to. He is a Veteran, he is my father!
And now, as i sit and watch him walk by once again, I find myself returning his sallute, my own eyes filling with tears. How can i ever thank him enough for what he, and his fellow soldiers, have given me and my family? How do you express such feelings and emotions? How do you thank them for fighting in far off lands to preserve the rights and freedoms that we, as Ammericans, enjoy each and every day?
I watched as he walked by and it came to me, you simply tell him “Thank You”, not just on this day, but every day. You tell him, and the millions like him, “Thank You”! They will understand, and they will appreciate the gesture!
Happy Memorial Day from PoliceLink to you and yours. Please take a moment today to remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice trying to make a difference in this wonderful country of ours.