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January 18, 2006

This poem was inspired by my visit to Omaha Beach in Normandy, France in 1999. The American cemetery there is a very moving place, and I was particularly moved by certain crosses in the cemetery that read: 


Also, In January 2006, I went to a David Harsh concert, where he sang a song about the same subject. That brought the memory back to me. 

A white cross stands in a cemetery
In a land far away
A lasting monument to an unknown soldier
Known but to God

What happened to this unknown soldier? 
God alone saw him pierced by countless bullets
Tossed by bombs and grenades
Shattered by shrapnel exploding all around

A family waited and worried at home
Counting the days until their daddy
Would step off the airplane
And run into their welcoming embrace

Did they get a knock on the door
And learn that he was MIA? 
Did they wait happily on the tarmac
For their daddy, who would never step off the plane?

Did they know a cross would mark
The place where his shattered remains lay? 
A beloved husband and daddy
Ever in a land far away

A young wife wondered and prayed
What became of the love of her life? 
The children worried and cried
Would they ever see their daddy's beaming face?

A wife never again got to kiss her husband's lips
A son never got to wrestle with his dad
And a daughter never got to dance in her daddy's loving gaze
He wasn't there to see his son graduate
Couldn't give his daughter away

His grandchildren never got to sit on the lap
Of the grandpa they never knew
Hearing stories of long ago
When he was their age

A young man kneels before a white marble cross
Moved to tears by the inscription to the unknown soldier. 
Who lies beneath this cross in honored glory? 
Could it be the bones of the grandfather he never knew?

The answer is known but to God.


All poetry © Steven Sauke. All Rights Reserved.