Monday, May 31, 2021

Guest Post: Jim Smith on Military Service and Lives Lost

Jim Smith served in the U.S. Army from January 2001 to July 2005. He was originally stationed in Fort Meade, Maryland. A combat photographer, he went to Iraq for the initial war in 2003 from January until July, and again in 2004 for an additional year. He lives in Long Reach with his wife and son.

He wrote the poem that follows ten years ago. You’ll find it’s not the typical Memorial Day post. 

I am sharing it with his permission because I think his personal insight is especially valuable to those of us who have not served. Smith raises an important issue when he notes that not all military casualties occur on the battlefield. We should remember and honor all lives lost today.


Damaged for a purpose?

To our wives and families we are heroes.

Carrying weapons thousands of miles away.

Fighting for something bigger than any one of us.

Sacrificing for a symbol, a flag, and a political cause.

We send back photos in uniform, with weapons, looking tough.

Women swoon, children admire, families are damn proud.

On the phone we promise the world on our return.

We are warriors, better than normal men, more like gods.

Then we return and the hugs, kisses and praise begin.

Great job baby! You made us all so proud son!

For a time you can walk on water, in some eyes you can forever.

You settle down, get a job and begin the good life you promised.

Soon things stop feeling great. The hero inside begins to fade.

Problems arise with family and friends, you become hated by some.

Once your wife looked at you as a deity, now she barely looks.

Twice a year people give you great thanks, it helps, but not enough.

You yearn for the uniform, for the excitement and the prestige.

Every boring day at work you look for some great battle but it never comes.

Nothing seems to excite you anymore, and even the good things are tarnished.

Everything you promised and wanted starts to fall apart, it is meaningless.

You keep living everyday leaning on your former life but it is gone.

There are no more accolades, no more campaigns, little meaning.

Few get over the pain of life after war, some even quit this existence.

The rest are the true veterans, ruined for life because of the red white and blue.         

- - Jim Smith                                                                    

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