A Walk Among Heroes

I walked among Heroes today             image002              
And was humbled by their sacrifice; 
They gave their all for me
So that I might live in freedom;
And I shall not forget them.

They were great men,
And humble men.
Some were leaders
And some followers.
Some may have questioned,
But they served none the less.

I thought about that image012
As I walked among them.
I have no pretensions about the ones
That questioned.
It was their right.
(Is that not, after all,
The essence of what they fought for?)


They were farmers and laborers;
Layman and Doctors.
Fathers and Mothers.image008
Some barely 18,
Some even younger
When they died.
Others were old and grey.
Yet to the very last one,
Heroes ALL.


I thought about our world;
How it was in the past,
And as it stands today.
(These places do that,
Is that not after all,
why they are here?)
I considered our history, image006
My history, and Yours.

I considered how for each act of Cowardice,
There are a thousand acts of Bravery.
For each Wrong,
There are ten thousand Rights.
The evidence was right here,
In the names on the Wall;
The faces molded in bronze
Lifted to the heavens;
And The Hallowed Ground
Upon which I walked.


It gave me hope;
It renewed my faith;
It lifted my soul;
It strengthened my resolve;
And touched my spirit.
(Is that not the reason
These monuments were built?)


As I walked among the Heroes,image018
In the distance were other monuments
To the Great men of our Nation.
Famous men,
Who’s lives are celebrated
With Tall spires and richly carved
Ornate Structures of Stone.


Yet when I let my hand rest
On the cool marble Wall,
Or stopped to let my eye
Wonder up the long white rows;
Or saw Our Flag lowered to honor yet another Hero.
I knew that all those other Monumentsimage004
Paled in comparison to these.
These stark Testimonials,
Made all the more poignant
By their simplicity.


I walked among the Great today;
And my soul trembled.
I had to stop often
To clear my vision;
And take a deep breath and steady myself,
Before moving on.
(Is that not why these places are here?)


Perhaps, I am Luckier than some,
For I have my very own personal Heroimage014
Among these brave souls.
I always stop and visit.
And when the tears cease,
I turn to walk among his Brothers and Sisters,
And the heaviness of the past moments
Is lifted from me.


If you have never been here,
And walked among these Heroes.
You need to do this.
You owe it yourself;
And to them.
You need to come;
To cry;
And be lifted.image016
You will be all the better for it,
It Will forever change you.
(Is that not why these places are here?)


But before you do,
Be forewarned;
These places will strip you
Of your pretensions.
They will lay bare the truth;
That Great Men are thus made
By their actions,
Not by words.
(Is that not the lessonimage010
Theses places are here to teach us?)


I walked among Heroes today,
And was humbled by their Sacrifice.
They gave their all for Us.
So that We might live in Freedom;
And thus it is our solemn duty
Never to forget them.
(What other reason could there be for building these places?)


And I will walk with you.

 © 2008 Jeffry L’H. Tank 

(notes: This a compilation of several ideas. I got the idea for the title from a thread that Kbase (a member of the ADVRiders motorcycle forum) pointed out. Building on that theme I decided to dedicate this poem to a particular idea, Heroes. Since I live near Arlington Cemetery, the National Mall in Washington DC. and such places as hold many of our nation’s monuments, that certainly seemed appropriate.

I also felt this was appropriate given the time of year I wrote this (Memorial Day) and because I feel it is important to occasionally stop and contemplate what we have as a Nation and as a People. And since I have access to these places that many may not, being separated by distance I thought I could share these with others not so fortunate to have such immediate access as I do.

The pictures were taken over several years on numerous different occasions as I have visited the locations spoken of in the poem. And it just so happens that one of my favorite times to make my visits is when it is rainy or foggy or just overcast, those times just seem to add something to the somberness of my visits. It seemed especially poinent that the day I visited The Wall that the flags around the monument in the distance were at half mast. For me these are places of reflection and contemplation. Curiously though it was only on my last recent visit to Arlington when the realization come to me about which are the truly important monuments, those as exemplified by the rows of plain white tombstones In this realization I learned there is still much to gained from these places and indeed, should you ever come, I would be honored to show them to you and walk with you awhile, Perhaps in doing that I will yet again learn something new merely by that sharing.

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