Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

John Samuel Tieman: Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier

It is late as I write. 3 AM. This is when I feel them most keenly. The boys who didn’t come home from the war.

You would think that such memories would be most appropriate on the most suitable days. Memorial Day. Veteran’s Day. But I’ll not think of Eric any more on those days than I do on any other day. Or any other night.

When I returned from Vietnam, when I was twenty, in my naivete I thought that surely my nation would never make this mistake again. Surely we would learn. Surely. Now, in my old age, after wars and more wars, I despair at – What? – some flaw in the human spirit, or whatever it is that keeps us killing.

And what remains is not the exact memory of war. Like so many memories, even the smell of cordite fades. As I age, what remains is a sadness that haunts me just before I sleep. And the face of a young man. Rob, who never knew the love of a good woman. Hank, who never lived in a house. Pete, who wasn’t there the day his daughter graduated from college.

These thoughts I have as, at 3 AM, I listen to an ancient Irish lament.

Copyright 2016 John Samuel Tieman. 

Email subscribers may click on the title of this article to listen to Diane Taraz sing “Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier.”

3 comments on “John Samuel Tieman: Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier

  1. Wendell F. Pike
    September 7, 2020

    Agree with you, I never forget the sounds, smell, faces and memories, especially at night, I was still 18 years old when I got to Vietnam and I was still 20 years old when I left after 19 months there in a mechanized infantry battalion, I am just thankful that our young men and women are treated better than we were, because I remember the way we were treated coming home that was worse than the war.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Regina Nolan Bryant
    May 28, 2017

    A touching tribute to be sure…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Vic St Clair
    October 16, 2016

    Well said my friend. Me too.

    Liked by 1 person

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