Post Reply
Switch to Forum Live View The Long March Home
7 years ago  ::  Nov 11, 2007 - 9:05AM #1
John_T_Mainer
Posts: 1,658
The Long March Home

Innocence lost in the blink of an eye,
dreams died with friends in the fire.
Escape alone from the wreckage of his shattered tank,
alone save the screams of the lost.
In the flames burned the boy who dreamed of his home,
in the flames forged the soul of the man.
A new tank, a new crew, to the old hell return
the Grenadier Guard's rolling home!

Somehow in the cannon's roar,
in the sharply barked commands,
In the madness of the dance of death
he was never more alive!

Come home to a land now strange to him,
to a folk who do not know
What hell awaits when he close his eyes,
save the nights in loves embrace.
Freya's gift is forgetfulness;
thus her half of the slain is earned.
For those souls that have walked on the battlefield,
know a part of you doesn't return.

Sons follow fathers, and grandsons too,
each walk for a time in the fire.
Glory and horror, friendship and fear,
leave their marks on the ones who survive.

Gather them now in the Legion hall,
an echo of Odin's own.
They come to remember the men that they were,
and the brothers who've passed beyond.
To drink and laugh, to boast or play,
with eyes that too have seen;
For those who've seen the wolf called war,
are home only with their own.

When comes the time the Valkyries ride,
to bring the lost ones home.
To reclaim the souls that marched from the field
Odin call the survivors home!


This poem is dedicated to my Grandfather, Benjamin Mainer, who has rejoined his
comrades in Valhalla, and my father James, whose march is not yet done.
Quick Reply
Cancel
7 years ago  ::  Nov 11, 2007 - 9:08AM #2
John_T_Mainer
Posts: 1,658
On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, we Remember.

Hail,
When I was a child, I wondered why Freya was given half the slain. When I read Homer, I naively thought that it had to do with loves ability to cause strife. I also wondered at the bond between my father, my grandfather, my
uncles and great uncles, but not all of them; only those that had served in the military, and fought, shared this strange unspoken communication. The two seemingly unrelated questions became answered together when I joined the army.

I was changed, as my father, and his father before him, as I passed through the crucible. One of my training NCO's called it "seeing the wolf", seeing strong fine men, friends closer than brothers, reduced to wreckage in a heartbeat, but continuing without pause to do your job. You operate at a higher level, you feel colder than ice, stronger than the mountain, but somewhere inside, you are still human, and the price is waiting for when you have the time to pay it. My father said once, that those who have been there (war) never really come home, that a part of them will always be lost upon the field.

My grandfather too, when he spoke of his time in the tanks in WWII would flash between the high spirits, remembering the shining friends and deeds, the million funny stories; and cold as the grave, the "thousand mile stare" that tells you that though they face you, the speaker's eyes are back there, on the field, as they describe the horrors that scarred them. The terrible things seen, and done, leave marks that the survivors are never really free of.

A part of my father is still in the Congo jungle, a part of my grandfather is still trapped in the wreckage of his first tank in France; until death finally freed him to rejoin his comrades in the hero's hall, Valhalla. In the arms of a lover, the wound is closed, the battlefield is distant, and sleep holds no fear. It is love that holds the memory at bay; or rather, it is the warmth of love that keeps the chill of the grave from reclaiming you. Freya's gift is that warming love, the sleep of peace that comes with it. Too many soldiers know what waits for them behind their eyes when they sleep alone. My grandfather said once that it took a long time before he stopped thinking the lucky ones were the ones who didn't make it home. It is the survivors that must pay the price. I do not doubt that Valhalla awaits them all, but those who fall upon the field rise to its glory now, where the survivors must live with it first. Odin half is remembrance, Freya's half is to forget
Quick Reply
Cancel
7 years ago  ::  Nov 11, 2007 - 5:13PM #3
Michaela9
Posts: 14
John,
again, your words put me at a loss of them. What could I say that would do justice to your deep words of truth, pain, and yet beauty? As one not of the military, I can begin to understand what the price is like that you, your family, and others like them are paying so that others can sleep in peace.
Your perspective on Freya's half is amazing, new, and it makes perfect sense.
Hail to the fallen, and the survivors, especially on this year's Einherjars' day.
Michaela
Quick Reply
Cancel
7 years ago  ::  Nov 11, 2007 - 5:13PM #4
Michaela9
Posts: 14
John,
again, your words put me at a loss of them. What could I say that would do justice to your deep words of truth, pain, and yet beauty? As one not of the military, I can begin to understand what the price is like that you, your family, and others like them are paying so that others can sleep in peace.
Your perspective on Freya's half is amazing, new, and it makes perfect sense.
Hail to the fallen, and the survivors, especially on this year's Einherjars' day.
Michaela
Quick Reply
Cancel
7 years ago  ::  Nov 11, 2007 - 10:29PM #5
Chicagoheathen
Posts: 881
What can I say, John? You have brought me to tears.

Waes thu hal.
All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.
Quick Reply
Cancel
7 years ago  ::  Nov 12, 2007 - 6:45AM #6
anirbas
Posts: 406
Both the poem and the backstory post
following it are fitting, well written tributes for Veteran's Day.
I'd like to say thank you to you and the men of your family,
both living and already crossed over for your service and sacrifice...Sabrina.
Quick Reply
Cancel
7 years ago  ::  Nov 12, 2007 - 2:08PM #7
PomegranateStaindGrn
Posts: 601
Like the others, I too am at a loss for words.  So painful and so beautiful.  I know that look well but could never understand it- thank you for putting the knowledge behind that look.  I will never understand it fully, but.. well that's all I can say.  Thank you. 

BB
Pom
Quick Reply
Cancel
 
    Viewing this thread :: 0 registered and 1 guest
    No registered users viewing
    Advertisement

    Beliefnet On Facebook