Happy Veterans Day!

Selected Poems for Veterans Day
The soldier
fights, bleeds, perhaps dies ...
freedom lives.





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The Gift Outright
Robert Frost
The land was ours before we were the land's.
She was our land more than a hundred years
Before we were her people. She was ours
In Massachusetts, in Virginia,
But we were England's, still colonials,
Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,
Possessed by what we now no more possessed.
Something we were withholding made us weak
Until we found out that it was ourselves
We were withholding from our land of living,
And forthwith found salvation in surrender.
Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
To the land vaguely realizing westward,
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
Such as she was, such as she would become.

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In Flanders Fields
Lt. Col. John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

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I Have a Rendezvous With Death
Alan Seeger
I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade,
And apple-blossoms fill the air-
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.

It may be he shall take my hand
And lead me into his dark land
And close my eyes and quench my breath--
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death
On some scarred slope of battered hill,
When Spring comes round again this year
And the first meadow-flowers appear.

God knows 'twere better to be deep
Pillowed in silk and scented down,
Where love throbs out in blissful sleep,
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
Where hushed awakenings are dear...
But I've a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,
When Spring trips north again this year,
And to my pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous.

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It is the Soldier
Father Dennis Edward O'Brien
It is the Soldier,
not the reporter, who has given us freedom of press.

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

It is the Soldier,
not the campus organizer, who gives us freedom to demonstrate.

It is the Soldier
who salutes the flag,
who serves beneath the flag,
and whose coffin is draped by the flag,
who allows the protester to burn the flag.

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A Nation's Strength
Walt Whitman
Not gold, but only man can make
     A people great and strong;
Men who, for truth and honor's sake,
     Stand fast and suffer long.

Brave men who work while others sleep,
     Who dare while others fly --
They build a nation's pillars deep
     And lift them to the sky.

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Prayer of a Soldier in France
Joyce Kilmer
My shoulders ache beneath my pack
(Lie easier, Cross, upon His back).

I march with feet that burn and smart
(Tread, Holy Feet, upon my heart).

Men shout at me who may not speak
(They scourged Thy back and smote Thy cheek).

I may not lift a hand to clear
My eyes of salty drops that sear.

(Then shall my fickle soul forget
Thy Agony of Bloody Sweat?)

My rifle hand is stiff and numb
(From Thy pierced palm red rivers come).

Lord, Thou didst suffer more for me
Than all the hosts of land and sea.

So let me render back again
This millionth of Thy gift. Amen.

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To the Memory of Brave Americans
Under General Greene, in South Carolina,
who fell in the action of September 8, 1781
Philip Freneau
At Eutaw Springs the valiant died;
Their limbs with dust are covered o'er --
Weep on, ye springs, your tearful tide;
How many heroes are no more!

If in this wreck or ruin, they
Can yet be thought to claim a tear,
O smite your gentle breast, and say
The friends of freedom slumber here!

Thou, who shalt trace this bloody plain,
If goodness rules thy generous breast,
Sigh for the wasted rural reign;
Sign for the shepherds, sunk to rest!

Stranger, their humble graves adorn;
You too may fall, and ask a tear;
'Tis not the beauty of the morn
That proves the evening shall be clear.

They saw their injured country's woe;
The flaming town, the wasted field;
Then rushed to meet the insulting foe;
They took the spear -- but left the shield.

Led by thy conquering genius, Greene,
The Britons they compelled to fly;
None distant viewed the fatal plain,
None grieved, in such a cause to die --

But, like the Parthian, famed of old,
Who, flying, still their arrows threw,
These routed Britons, full as bold,
Retreated, and retreating slew.

Now rest in peace, our patriot band,
Though far from nature's limits thrown,
We trust they find a happier land,
A brighter sunshine of their own.

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The Things That Make a Soldier Great
Edgar Guest
The things that make a soldier great and send him out to die,
To face the flaming cannon's mouth nor ever question why,
Are lilacs by a little porch, the row of tulips red,
The peonies and pansies, too, the old petunia bed,
The grass plot where his children play, the roses on the wall:
'Tis these that make a soldier great.
He's fighting for them all.

'Tis not the pomp and pride of kings that make a soldier brave;
'Tis not allegiance to the flag that over him may wave;
For soldiers never fight so well on land or on the foam
As when behind the cause they see the little place called home.
Endanger but that humble street whereon his children run,
You make a soldier of the man who never bore a gun.
What is it through the battle smoke the valiant soldier sees?

The little garden far away, the budding apple trees,
The little patch of ground back there, the children at their play,
Perhaps a tiny mound behind the simple church of gray.
The golden thread of courage isn't linked to castle dome
But to the spot, where'er it be — the humblest spot called home.
And now the lilacs bud again and all is lovely there
And homesick soldiers far away know spring is in the air;
The tulips come to bloom again, the grass once more is green,
And every man can see the spot where all his joys have been.

He sees his children smile at him, he hears the bugle call,
And only death can stop him now -- he's fighting for them all.

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We Stood For Freedom
Roger J. Robicheau
Former U.S. Army Specialist Fifth Class
We stood for freedom just like you
And loved the flag you cherish too
Our uniforms felt great to wear
You know the feel, and how you care.

In step we marched, the cadence way
The same is true with you today
Oh how we tried to do our best
As you do now, from test to test
How young we were and proud to be
Defenders of true liberty.

So many thoughts bind soldiers well
The facts may change, not how we jell
Each soldier past, and you now here
Do share what will not disappear
One thought now comes, straight from my heart
For soldiers home, who've done their part.

I'm honored to have served with you
May Godly peace, help get you through
And now I'll end with a request
Do ponder this, while home at rest
America, respect our day
Each veteran, helped freedom stay.

©2002 Roger J. Robicheau
Reproduced with permission

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When I See an Eagle
Marie Frankson
When I see an eagle, I see a great nation
which has been founded on the principles of
equality and freedom for all.

When I see an eagle, I see our flag flying high.
I see happy children playing and smiling and laughing and singing.

When I see an eagle, I see a melting pot of blacks and Hispanics, Italians and Indians, Native American and Irish which make up our country.

When I see an eagle, I see no more bondage,
no more terrorism, ethnocentrism, racism, and hate.

When I see an eagle, I see our troops fighting for what is right, fighting to keep us free.

When I see an eagle, I see America standing tall and strong and proud behind her servicemen and women.

When I see an eagle, I salute and say a silent prayer of thanks for the troops who protect us.
© Marie Frankson
Reproduced With Permission

From the author: 
I am Marie Frankson and am 16. I wrote this poem to show that we should stand behind our troops and stop with the "Don't support the troops" stuff. This poem was sent overseas and is hanging up in every office of the different military branches. It was also published in a book for a contest. It was one of the winners of the contest. A soldier, killed by a car bomb in Iraq one week after being deployed there, was buried with the poem in his pocket.




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