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Veteran Poems by Roberto J. Prinselaar

Don’t envy a man his medals
All those ribbons on his chest
He did not try to get them
They’re not there at his request
They were earned in stinking hellholes
Where no man would like to go
Or in cold and wintry places
Where there’s only ice and snow
He didn’t know he earned them
Till they were awarded at parade
And they were bright when he first got them
But in time the colors fade
He was told he had to wear them
And to wear them all with pride
But when the colors fade
He was told he had to wear them
And to wear them all with pride
But when the memories come to haunt him
Those same medal’s make him hide
Cause those medals will not bring back
All those guys he left behind
And he would trade them all forever
For a little peace of mind
So don’t envy a man his medals
You don’t want to take his place
Thinking back to long gone battles
And meeting dead friends face to face

I feed my soul with conversation
A talk with men who were there too
Who left their friends in far off places
The men who now become so few

Our gray hair is an indication
That we are now among the old
Our talks revolve around an era
When we were young and oh so bold

We talk of war and talk of pleasure
We talk of friends who are now gone
Our martial past a fine honed memory
But now, oh God, we’re so alone

We are now strangers in our country
Civilians do not think the way we do
So when we talk, we’re back together
The ones who went, the proud, the few

I loved the names we gave our food
Although some names were downright lewd
One thing for sure the stuff was light
That made a difference in a fight

The rations now are MRE’s
The rations then were mostly “C”s
There were some good, and some were bad
But damn it all, that’s all we had

And there were times that you could swap
Cause there were guys who loved the slop
At every meal came time to trade
It was a fun game that we played

There was one ration we all know
I’ll tell you now we loved it so
The one we really loved to eat
“Ham and Mothers” was the treat

Yes, lima beans were good for you
They manufacture methane gasses too
But if you think I’m selling sky
I’m just a vet, and never lie

I watched a movie about all the vets
Exposed to defoliant spray
And I thought of all of the vets
That are hurting and dying each day
This isn’t a movie we watch on TV
This is real and it’s not just a tale
They are blind, they are crippled
And some slightly nuts
They are prisoners of hurt with no bail
They all did their duty away from this land
And sometimes it was too much to bear
It’s hard to watch buddies die in the dirt
And wondering if there’s someone to care
Then going home happened, t’was a great day
Leaving all of the misery behind
But the war never left, especially at night
It’s almost like losing your mind
And some left some pieces, no longer whole
And some are dying real slow
And they’re lying in beds all over this land
With wheelchairs that no longer go
So I think of the movie, and think of the war
And I think of the friends I have lost
And I wonder how many just watching that film
Remember just what it all cost

I’M O.K.
I’ll admit I’m slightly troubled
And there are times I’m downright sad
When I think back on things that happened
And some of those were really bad
But I’m O.K., I tell you truly
I’m alive, and that’s a lot
I’m better off than some old buddies
Yeah I’m alive, and they are not
There are times I dream about them
But mostly now, I only sleep
I’m telling you I’m doing fine now
Why should I think ‘bout things so deep
I never cry, cause that’s not manly
It’s not the way that I was taught
And what the hell, it’s all behind me
I’ve put aside just why we fought
I can’t remember all the reasons
There had to be some, I suppose
I do remember, for God and country
But it was more than only those
I lost some friends, for lofty reasons
And they are now forever gone
But I’m O.K., yeah, I’m still living
But sometimes GOD, I’m so alone

Roberto J. Prinselaar

I have served my country, in the Navy and Coast Guard for 31 plus years. During those years I was in Korea, China, and Southeast Asia. I entered the service as a Seaman recruit, and after becoming a Chief Petty Officer, I received a Presidential commission to LTjg. And retired as a Lieutenant Commander.

LCDR Roberto J. Prinselaar, USCG (Ret)