Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans' Day - 1919 - 1967 - 2010


Do you remember the dark months you held the sector at Mametz--
The nights you watched and wired and dug and piled sandbags on parapets?
Do you remember the rats; and the stench
Of corpses rotting in front of the front-line trench--
And dawn coming, dirty-white, and chill with a hopeless rain?
Do you ever stop and ask, 'Is it all going to happen again?'
Do you remember that hour of din before the attack--
And the anger, the blind compassion that seized and shook you then
As you peered at the doomed and haggard faces of your men?
Do you remember the stretcher-cases lurching back
With dying eyes and lolling heads--those ashen-grey
Masks of the lads who once were keen and kind and gay?
Have you forgotten yet?...
Look up, and swear by the green of the spring that you'll never forget.
By: Siegfried Sassoon(March 1919)

Gablingen Kaserne
Augsburg, Germany
December 3, 1967

Olive drab communications trucks,
Camouflaged by years of spot painting,
Are parked in a row, backed up against a deserted mess hall;
One like a thousand such around the world,
Built not for beauty, but to stand the test of time.

Antennas are faintly seen, silhouetted against a starry sky.
Tiny lights are seen moving along a far off road.
From the 292 vans comes the sound of typewriters,
Interspersed by the occasional thud of a slamming door,
Or, rarely, a human voice.

Inside, men while away their tour of duty with
Coffee, cigarettes, and idle talk of sex and politics,
Moving on to new fields without fully exploring the last.

75- watt bulbs illuminate a perimeter of concertina wire,
Not two yards distant from our trucks, yet,
Serving adequately as a barrier when augmented by makeshift signs in two languages:

A shivering MP walks from truck to truck, yearning to be inside,
But if not, at least for an unknown face to challenge
To break the monotony of a dull evening.

An occasional tank, for reasons unfathomed by us,
Roars by on a night training mission that takes it through our antenna field,
Breaking the stillness of the chilly December night.

We deskbound warriors scramble out to gaze upon the Real Army,
Make our snide remarks (“Sixth Man in an APC”, “RE-UP Army”, or the like),
And return to warmth to await the arrival of the Mid-Trick
Spec 5, R.E.M.
RA 17682396
Co. B, 20th USASA Field Station
Bad Aibling, Bavaria, West Germany

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