Some call me veteran from which I often hide.
I served my time though not where others died,
through hours long I did my job as others met the call,
for me to give only some when others give their all.
Why do I feel so empty when others swell with pride?
What is it about me from others I must hide?
What was done for which I must atone.
On that cold dark night when I stood alone,
With God my only witness I raised up my voice.
In that cold darkness I made my fateful choice.
One path from the other in a time so long ago,
what was in my future for me not to know?
My face puffed and aching from the painful blow,
I stood and swore to return that pain to my foe.
If it took a lifetime he was going to know,
the pain and hurt I felt that night there in the snow.
God my only witness to the vow I made that night.
That he might feel the pain that was my right.
Months had passed since that painful fight,
then was the call on that fateful night.
Wounds in battle was what we heard,
As my Mother cried and relayed the word.
My cousin was hurt and on his way home,
From that far off land where he was sent to roam.
I thought again of that distant night,
When we had our awful fight.
Was it my vow that night, that caused my secret fright?
Was I the reason for my cousin's plight?
It's for this that I must atone,
Now that he is coming home.
But when you call me Veteran I must protest,
because I did not pass any fearsome test.
My body's not sore and broken like those who fell,
when duty called, and they were sent to hell.
But when I hear often of those who had to go,
I'd say a prayer for all those I didn't know.
When in the night while alone I pray,
And place my hand in hand along my way.
My hands clasp tightly as I pray for you,
protection for you all is what I have to do.
But it's all I hope and what I have to do.
So when you call me Veteran you share what few can say.
You served your God and fellow man that day.
Joseph E. Puett, Jr.; June 2006