The Old Soldier

This came in the newsletter from the Legion. My Dad joined the Legion but I picked it up since he’s in Florida. There was a cute snowman graphic photocopied on the front and this was on the back:

The Old Soldier

Medals such meagre payments for priceless years willingly thrown away,
Are taken from their casual resting place in bureau drawers,
And proudly polished to a sheen brass buttons once were given.
Then pinned to coats by hands less steady than when they held the gun
The faint notes of Reveille can be heard or are they just imagined –
As a final wipe is given to already gleaming shoes.
The dark blue tam is tugged to a familiar cocky angle
And the old soldiers, downing something to ward off November’s chill, fall in once more.
The ranks are even thinner this year than each had feared.
A different foe – old age – aided perhaps by too many glasses drained to numb the painful legacy of war.
Has claimed another score or more of comrades
Bringing home to those remaining the realization that this might be their last parade.
Not time for that, the pipes and drums have sounded
It’s effort enough to keep in step on a route that lengthens every year
Nor is it shortened by the knowledge that the crowd of onlookers has also thinned
And some have come to jeer, not pay respects as others did before
Some of the scoffers, too young to ever hand been touched by war.
Snicker when the bugler falters as he plays Taps
They smirk at each other as the Speaker intones “Lest we forget”
While a thousand eyes look up at them sadly
And five hundred hearts whisper, “if you only knew”.

Tom Douglas.

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