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The Old Soldier

by  Steve Gregory

Posted: Monday, March 16, 2015
Word Count: 659
Summary: I saw an old soldier waiting with, what I assume was his grandchild, and was quite moved by his actions as a friend arrived.

See him standing there, straight and proud,
Medals in a row upon his chest and beret
Perched jauntily upon his head, cap badge
Above his brow and a shy smile as memories
Fill the eye of the mind again of comrades
Past and gone, of battles lost and won;
The old soldier stands so proud as all the
World pass him by without the blink of
An eye or the turning of heads to smile and
Give a hint they care or even stand and stare,
He used to get that, especially from the girls;
Now everyone walks by without even a smile.
Each medal a memory of a battle and comrades
Lost, memories of youth and laughter and tears.
From first day nerves and Sergeant Major cry
Of ‘get your hair cut, you ‘orrible little man!’
To marching on the square with a dozen strangers,
Who soon became mates, as the orders came
Thick and fast to march, left wheel, right wheel,
About turn; then a heavy rifle added and the
Orders to slope arm, order arm and the clatter
As rifles fell and a red faced Sergeant Major
Filled the eyes and sweet breath filled the nose
And loud curses deafened the ear and heart beat
That little bit faster as the drill repeated day in
Day out; the nights of barrack room humour
Or the dance in NAFFI bar, while girls watched
Nervously as young uniformed men chose nervously!
The old soldier smiled as he stood, memories coming
As they would, while a tear escaped the confines of
The eye that stared into future past and remembered.
Another day, a radio whistled and crackled into life;
A message from Mr Chamberlain announces War,
With Germany, and all life halted as men marched
Again to France to defend the realm of God, King
And Country; the old soldier smiled at the thought
That came of French Mademoiselles and flowers
As they marched to the border where the war was phony.
From Belgium to Dunkirk, it seemed the old, old story
Of running backwards to go forwards, then retreat,
Thousands of men stranded on the beach just to wait
For the Navy to take them home, and relieve the state
Of mind of losing before it had begun as Churchill
Stood strong against the Hun; so Blighty looked good
And the drill square still caused more blisters than war!
From Dunkirk to El Alamain, from D-Day to Market Garden,
The old soldier remembered the battles, the honours
From Aden to Afghanistan, Balkans to Falklands never
Forget the old soldier stays strong and tall, promoted, never
Dying, all glory, tell the story, but never give up, never resign
From the memory of what was, and what was done before.
See the child, innocence and smiles reach out to take his hand
And whisper loving words to the old soldier they call friend,
The child speaks clear for all to hear, ‘thank you friend for
Your yesterday gave us today and we are free to stand and see
The pride the nation shows to thee; for our tomorrow you gave
Your all, and now I stand to take your hand to claim your crown.’
The old soldier smiles, and grasps the hand of the child,
The medals shine and shimmer as they jangle in the breeze
And the arm comes up in stiff salute as the colours rise
And a smile wide creases the old soldiers face, the child
Looks on with pride in the sight of the old soldier, honoured,
The old soldier looked around and saw the crown coming down
And resting on his head, as God spoke out and welcomed him
Home to rest his weary head and serve Heavens King instead.
Remember all old soldiers, and thank them for their corps, the
Memories they share will keep them alive and the victory is
Theirs as they stand tall and proud with their medals shining bright.