Memento Mori

(for my father on the third anniversary of his passing)

‘I found myself on a field of war
A gun held in my hand
The enemy approached
I fired upon the man’.

‘He fell to earth like a great stone
I ran to see him fall
And when I turned him over
I heard the funeral pall’.

‘I looked into his glassy eyes
Afraid of what I’d see
A shock of recognition
The man lying there was me’.

“Any man’s death diminishes me
For I’m part of the human race”
The truth was plain as day
Staring me in the face.

‘Memento Mori’ said the saints
‘Remember your mortality’
Whatever you take from others
Doesn’t add to your vitality.

“Do not ask for whom the bell tolls”
Sounds from sea to shining sea
It rings for one it rings for all,
It tolls for you and me.

‘I closed the soldier’s eyes
Kneeling beside his frame
I said a prayer for his brief life
‘Forgive me in your name’.

My mind went back to Sunday School
Those commandments I once learned
‘Thou shalt not kill’ Moses said
The reminder had returned.

It’s one thing to be a soldier of the cross
In salvation’s awesome cause
Those soldiers are giving life
Not shooting without pause.

Memento Mori
There but for God’s grace
Each one of us could be lying there
In that dead soldier’s place.

My father told me this very tale,
With a tear in his eye
Of a blond haired Aryan youngster
He had to watch die.

It may have been his bullet
That cut this young life short
It may have been his aim
But as a last resort.

But when he turned the other cheek
Of this young German’s face
What he saw was a revelation
Of death and its disgrace.

They say that war is Hell
Unleashed upon the land
If so we’re the Devil’s minions
With blood upon our hands.

I think now of my father
On this veteran’s day
And how much he added to many lives

And the one he took away.

Addition by subtraction
Is not His gentle way
My father was reminded
On a blood stained field that day.


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