I am a Boy turned Man.
Willingly forfeit my life on the dotted line.
My commitment cemented, I leave friends and family far behind.
I am a Man turned Solider.
Chest pounding with vigor and pride
My duty to service is limitless and often unrecognized.
I am a Solider turned Defender.
Crossing the borders of lands unknown
My presence brings hope to the oppressed and peace to those in terror.
I am a Defender turned Savior.
Guns blaze in glory and service to the flag
My enemy defeated; my obligation completed with remorse and debate.
I am a Savior turned Casualty.
Patrolling the streets to promote peace and goodwill
My life has ended; bones and dreams simultaneously shattered by an IED.
I am a Casualty turned Victim.
Placed inside a dark plastic tomb, my toe is tagged
My fellow comrades salute me one final time before I return home.
I am a Boy turned Hero.
Loved ones come to pay their respects and say goodbye
My body is placed into Arlington soil, twenty-one shots fire in my honor.
I wrote this for, not only my own family members who have served, but for every man and woman who has dedicated themselves to defending our Freedoms. While this poem uses the words “boy” and “man” in reference to the soldier, it is in no way meant to be sexiest, or diminish the contributions made by the dedicated women of our Armed Forces. When I originally wrote this poem I pictured it from the point of view of the men in my life - Father, Brother, Uncles - who served.
Originally I used the word “murderer” where the word “savior” is being used now. The idea of the poem was to represent the “titles” – good and bad - that are placed on soldiers by our society. Like us civilians, soldiers don’t always agree with the categories they get lumped into, or the tags they get labeled with.
Then my friend Keith pointed out, that from a Veterans point of view, the word “murderer” came across as offensive and harsh. I agreed with him, but I kept it in the poem anyway. It was exactly the kind of emotion I wanted to induce from a Veterans point of view. As a Veteran who has defended your country, you should be offended when someone refers to you as a murderer. I personally don’t believe soldiers are murderers, but I know some do, and that’s the message I wanted to get across.
However, after I had the poem narrated, and was able to listen to the words that I wrote aloud, the word “murderer” struck a chord with me. Even though I’ve never served in the Armed Forces, I was personally offended by my own words. It was settled. I had to remove the offending word. Keith was right. The last thing I wanted to do was be disrespectful or offend our brave men and women. Artistic license be damned!
So I give to you, “Boy Turned Hero” in its final form.
Michael A. Walker
Winner of the DudeWrite Platinum Card Award
Are you a Veteran? Do you have family and friends who lost their lives fighting for the American way of life? I would love to hear your thoughts and critiques.
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