David R. “Poppa” Alexander
Daddy, see that old man over there in the wheel chair?
Who is he daddy, he’s kinda goofy looking with that hat on doesn’t he care?
Come over here with me son, stand close by,
He’s an old bum who comes down here to ruin out parade on the Fourth of July
Daddy, he sure is an old man,
Look at his long uncut hair, bearded face, worn out cloths and shaking hand,
I’ll not tell you again to stay away from over there and that old bum,
Every holiday parade several of them come down here and ruin our fun.
Excuse me mister, if I might say a word,
And I’m sorry that I overheard.
But that old bum, as you call him,
Lost an eye and also a limb.
You will excuse me if I tell you who that really is;
He is a Veteran, a symbol of all the services.
He fought in Germany, France, Italy, Burma, Guam, Vietnam, and Desert Storm.
He is the reason you and your children can stand here in the sun so warm.
He, you see, is a Veteran; a person who put his life on the line,
Just so you and your children can have a good time.
He represents the Air Force, the Army, the Navy, and the Marines,
No, you don’t have to listen and I’m not trying to be mean.
But you had better teach your young son there the truth while you can,
Because he will, before you know it, grow up and become a man.
That old Bum, as you called him, won’t get in your way,
But wouldn’t it be nice to show a little respect to him today?
He has been a flag waver for all his life;
He went off to war, time after time leaving his family and his wife.
He represents more than his one war,
He stands for freedom, and he asks no more.
His days on this earth are slowly coming to an end;
Don’t you think it would be nice to introduce your son to a friend?
He dreams of times gone by and the flag and parade’s he will never see,
You see Sir, he is a Veteran just like me
So when you come down to a parade next time,
Don’t forget to bring you children and don’t leave them behind,
But always remember and never forget,
You wouldn’t have these freedoms if it were not for us vets.
©Copyright July 4, 2002 by David R. Alexander
Author’s Note: Veterans Day, the most forgotten Federal Holiday, is celebrated on the second Monday of November each year. In 1918, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month, the world rejoiced and celebrated. After four years of bitter war, the Allied powers signed a cease-fire agreement (an armistice) with Germany at Rethondes, France on November 11, 1918, bringing World War I to a close. The “war to end all wars” was over.
In 1953 townspeople of Emporia, Kansas called the holiday Veterans’ Day in gratitude to the veterans in their town. Soon after, Congress passed a bill introduced by a Kansas congressman renaming the federal holiday to Veterans’ Day. Beginning in 1954, the United States designated November 11 as Veterans Day to honor veterans of all U. S. wars. In 1971 President Nixon declared it a federal holiday on the second Monday in November.
After the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War, the emphasis on holiday activities has shifted. There are fewer military parades and ceremonies. Veterans gather at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D. C. to place gifts and stand quiet vigil at the names of their friends and relatives who fell in the Vietnam War.