by Karen Offutt
As I looked at him, his eyes returned the stare
His skin was black, mine white, though we didn't care.
Instant brothers, as from one mother's womb,
Now lying together in our earthen tomb.
He held my hand as he gasped for breath,
Our blood mingled as we fought against death.
We had met as youngsters only months before
And now lay dying, old men, from this war.
We talked quietly in our muddy hole;
We shared those moments and bore our souls.
He told of a wife and a baby due.
He spoke of his little boy, now only two.
He was afraid of dying, of leaving them alone.
He started to cry, and in pain, then, to moan.
It seemed insane that moments before,
We both had been healthy - had life by the door.
I had been walking just a few feet ahead
Hadn't noticed the mine planted in the field's green bed.
He lunged ahead, tried to push me away
The mine had exploded; our world turned to gray.
His legs were torn off, as though they didn't exist
His lips had been touched by Death's final kiss.
He gave up his life without any regret
To save me, his brother, he had only just met.
We held each other as the choppers grew near.
We held onto life, so precious and dear.
Both of us knew, they'd arrive too late,
Death was waiting, holding open it's gate.
The tears ceased flowing from his eyes of brown;
He pulled me closer, lifting his head from the ground.
"I'm dying, my brother," he whispered low,
"Tell them at home, so that they will know
That I died for my country, our freedom to save
For others to live, my life gladly I gave.
Don't let them forget us or the blood that we shed,
For to die without cause, when you die, you're just dead."
"Make them remember what their freedom costs.
Help them to know it can be easily lost.
Don't let them forget me or the other Vets
For we gave our all and paid a large debt."
He let out a sigh, as I gave him my vow,
Then he lowered his head, as though in a bow.
A smile appeared upon his face
And I knew he was now in a better place.
I'll never forget him - what he gave up for me
And for you, my brother, because you see,
He died for us all and we cannot forget
He died bravely - a Vietnam Vet.
Karen SP5, USA Vietnam 1969-1970
Dedicated to my brothers and sisters
who gave their lives.