by Neil Chopra

A civilian lost
In their routine
Is oblivious
Of those who bleed.
They walk amidst
Our chatting crowds,
Often silent
While we do shout.
To disagree
With talking heads,
A strategy
So wrongly led,
Does not preclude
Solemn respect
Rightfully due:
Their promise kept.
When wallet thins
Resounding cries,
But fallen limbs
Are met with quiet.
Their protection
From a distance
Lets us all run
Continued business.
Defender returns
But left forsaken,
No matter the burns
His body’s taken.
And when asked
To do our part,
A simple task
Compared to harm,
We look for ways
To lock our chest,
And spend our pay
On how we dress:
A sacrifice
Of luxury
Affects our lives
Too much it seems.
Injury sustained
May show on skin,
Or else remain
Hidden within.
If body fails
To keep with pace,
Or mind derails,
In any case,
Torment reaches
A family’s home;
Over seasons,
Willpower shown.
Caregiver’s cries
For some reprieve,
Not seen outside,
Leaves us deceived.
Though duty complete,
Struggles continue,
Each day replete
With more to sift through.
A piece was left
Strewn on the field,
Not met with death,
But home revealed
What started as
A lover’s kiss
Is in the past,
A fleeting bliss.
But smaller sparks
Do find their way
Out from the dark:
Love does not wane.
Although it might
Meet resistance,
It does survive
And greater strengthen.
They sacrifice
With such commitment,
Please recognize
The pain they live with.
A name engraved
To remember
The life they gave
Without surrender.
Fear may have flared
When met with danger:
How to prepare
To kill a stranger?
Discipline wrought
From training mind,
And clearing thoughts
Of those behind
Who worry of
Their final breath;
Burden enough
From mission set.
An expertise
To minimize
The threat to team;
But risking life
Still weaves the thread
Of noble service,
Honoring dead
In common purpose.
If glory tasted
As warrior fallen,
In stories placed and
Soon recalled when
We look for heroes
With real examples
So we can see close
Their courage ample.
Do we believe
In anything
With such esteem
To let death sing?
What sacrifice
Can ever match
A given life
On our behalf?
A threat decreed
May be in scope,
Or else may seem
Devoid of hope;
But is the fight
Ever in vain:
A pen from high
That seals a fate?
A clear command
To waiting boots,
The battle plan
May not have proof
Of war being waged
Outside the bubble;
The theater’s stage
Proves greater trouble.
But brothers flank
On either side,
No vaulted rank
Can run and hide.
Loyalty drawn
From other’s blood,
Honor kept strong
With weight of love.
If victory found
In hollow label,
Or truly crowned
In world left stable;
The quarrel entered
For waving flag,
Or by a temper
Found raving mad,
Or for the home where
You dream at night,
Or for the soldier
In closest sight:
The sacrifice
Is never useless;
Don’t let their lies
Try to disprove this.
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