The tour bus rumbles past
the quiet monuments to the fallen.
Shutters click as the tour guide
speaks the litany of the shrine,
that once was the Lee estate.
Now it is that hallowed ground
where solders come for that long rest.
The Quick rumble past the carved stones
of the Dead, that once placed
boots of war on their feet.
Their soles now silent.
Now day-trippers take aim and fire.
Cameras, not rifles.
Pictures, not prisoners taken.
The bus stops. The microphone is silent.
To the left a horse pulls a caisson carrying a flag-draped box
That contains a name who once walked.
The warrior sent at our command.
The sightseer sees and falls silent
And hears the echo of guns.
Three volleys and then the mournful notes.
Boys became men
And men became names
And names became graves
Gone is the sun,
Day is done.
God is Nigh.
I wrote this poem a number of years ago after a visit to Arlington National Cemetery during a visit to Washington DC. I’ve been privileged to have three visits to our nation’s capital in my life and each time I go, I enter the gates of Arlington to pay my respects to the men and women who gave their lives in the service of our nation. It is my hope that we will learn to live in peace so that no one ever again need surrender their life to defend our freedom.
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