A poem for the return of the local soldiers

Published 9:20 am Thursday, July 17, 2008

From down the road I saw them, marching two by two.

I could not wait to thank them for all that they had been through.

Protecting our freedom is sure a lot to bear.

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Soldiers just growing up with still so much to share.

They serve for us to protect the freedoms that we hold true.

They serve while people mock them about protecting the red, white and blue.

Closer to me they marched, still waving to the crowd.

Until all of a sudden a protester breaks through and trips unto the ground.

He screams at the soldiers that they promote hate and stumbles again in the great heat.

The soldiers hear him and they proceed to only help him to his feet.

Now almost next to me I hear a soldier tell this protester “Thanks for coming down.”

The protester pulls away, states, “Are you mocking me?” and shows a grimace and a frown.

The soldier states, “No, not at all. You’re the reason I fought and tried to do my best.

“So you can share your views with all of us, and take part in this great fest.

“Your right of speech is one of the freedoms that I protected and I hold no ill will.

“But try to understand my side, too,” and the protester just stood real still.

“The freedoms you enjoy have to be fought for by somebody just like me.

“Because you will never do it, someone needs to set us all free.

“So just go on your way, protesting it all, the flag, the war, and whatever else you want to choose.

“Because people like me and our veterans, too, have paved that righteous road just for you.

“Now before you leave here. and you think about all the words that I have just said.

“I have a dad, a grandpa and a darn good friend that fought for you and now sadly they are all dead.

“So think through your position on whatever it is because the soldiers deserve that and more. We have earned your praise and your thanks for showing you all the way.

“I need to keep marching now; I need to not leave my unit’s side, because without this group of soldiers, I may not have been here to give this speech today.”

As they marched on by, I thought how so mature this soldier seemed to be.

It was then that I realized that this young man had seen more than any of us have ever seen.

So to judge too quickly is never really right, unless you have been in those combat boots.

Those tattered boots worn by heroes have always stood for freedom from our earliest founders’ roots.

As that young man continued marching, I noticed the protester was silent and seemed so very mute.

I think they reached some common ground that day as I saw the protester salute.

Tribune Publisher Scott Schmeltzer’s column appears every Thursday.