The Last Visit – D-Day Plus

–  The Last Visit  –  D-DAY PLUS –

The only sounds are engines

Droning through the night

With thousands more just like them

Carrying them to the fight

The 6th of June called D-Day

In nineteen forty-four

A day we will remember

Or better, that’s for sure

In France an old man wanders

Through crosses straight and white

He looks for names of comrades

From that pre-invasion night

The Pathfinders were first in

And dropped behind the lines

To mark the way for thousands

Who would follow in do time

I saw the old man falter

As he stopped on shaky feet

He faced a shiny white cross

His eyes fell to his feet

I walked up just behind him

But did not say a word

The old man stood there talking

And this is what I heard

“Well Jughead, how’s it going?

It’s been a while, I know.

You know I’m almost eighty.

Ain’t young like you no more.”

“The ones that’s left are fading

And most can’t travel here.

And truth be known, old buddy

This might be my last year.”

“I had to come and see ya

Just one more time you see

I had to say in person just

How much you meant to me.”

The old man’s hands were trembling

Tears welled up in his eyes

The tears ran down his wrinkled cheeks

As he tried to vocalize

“Our time in basic training

And jump school was a kick.

Aboard the old Queen Mary

When most of us were sick.”

“Over there in bloody England

When both of us were young

Before our war had started

When our hearts were full of song.”

He looked right at the grave stone

Corporal Thomas Charles, it read

June 6th he came to Normandy

June 9th, Jughead was dead

“Three days we were in combat

Three days of living hell

When death was all around us

We all remember well.”

“When told we would advance upon

The bridge at mornings light

I knew that some would parish

In morns upcoming fight.”

“But if you would have told me

You’d be among those few

I wouldn’t have believed it

Why not me but you.”

“Morning came and went that day

And take the bridge we did

I found you dead behind the wall

Where till the dawn we hid.”

“I didn’t see it happen, pal

I’m sorry but it’s true

I didn’t even miss you till

The shootin’ part was through.”

“No one had seen you runnin’

No one had seen you fall

No one knew that war for you

Had ended behind that wall.”

“You’ll live on with me my friend

As will all who fell

Until I’m called to joint you

By Heavens tolling bell.”

And then I saw it happen

His hands trembled no more

His back was straight and rigid

As he stood firm and sure

With tear filled eyes and head held high

He saluted his old friend

And knew that it would have to do

Until they met again

He turned and looked right at me

And said with half a smile

“Remember what you’ve seen here, son.

Reflect on it a while.”

I watched the old man falter

As he turned and walked away

I knew that I’d not soon forget

All I’d heard that day

I stood there in the fading light

And thought of what he’d said

And looked out on the crosses

Of all our fallen dead

Young men who got no older

Who walked straight into Hell

Who sacrificed their futures

And with their comrades fell

Their memories are fading now

Like those that had survived

For it’s in them the fallen live

As if they’d never died.

Edward L. Binkley

6/6/09

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