F. Lee Horn

Lee is retired/disabled. He served as a Captain in the US Army (Infantry) and saw duty in Vietnam during the period September 1967 – September 1969

THE HEART OF A SOLDIER

I met him at the Wall, that dark September day;
his eyes were clear and bright, although his hair was gray.

He wore a faded jacket, and as he knelt and prayed,
I looked in admiration at the medals there displayed.

Proud of my own new uniform, I stood straight and tall,
beside this older Veteran, now weeping at the Wall.

His hands seemed somehow faded, like the tiny flag they held.
He stumbled slightly as he rose; I now his cane beheld.

And as he looked at me, his eyes still filled with tears:
a smile of recognition came, despite my fewer years.

One glance at my chevron’d sleeve, another at my chest,
told him of my recent past, my face told him the rest.

“In Vietnam they said we lost;” deep pain now filled his eyes.
“But I remember, yes I remember, the agony and cries.”

“For many years I’ve kept this flag, and carried it with pride,
in mem’ry of our comrades there who fought and bled and died.”

“I tried to re-enlist,” he said, “They said I was too old.”
“And this old leg feels greater pain, ‘specially in the cold.”

My own eyes now filled with tears as he gave the flag to me.
“Carry this for all the others who died to keep us free.”

I think about that old Soldier, who passed to me the dream,
a’kneeling here with all my gear beside an Afghan stream.

I swear by all that’s holy that I will do my best,
to save the dream, then touch the flag now sown into my vest.

“Duty, honor, Country,” now becomes my creed,
I serve the cause of liberty, I ride sweet freedom’s steed.

As we remount, the rotors whir, o’er Afghan plains we fly,
I touch the flag and now recall: “Old Soldiers never die.”