Last week, I was in the WalMart produce section squishing avocados when a cute little old man came rolling up next to me on a scooter. He was wearing a military cap that had the silhouette and name of the ship I assumed he served on in World War II.
“Do you like poetry, miss?”
(He called me “miss!”)
“Yes sir, I do!” I answered enthusiastically.
“Well, I have some poems here I wrote. Would you like some copies of them?”
“Sure I would,” I said as I took the handful of little papers he held out toward me. “I like your hat. So, you’re a war veteran. Where did you serve?” I knew by asking this I was opening the floodgates, but that’s okay. I could tell he wanted to talk about it, and I didn’t mind listening. These men lived through and experienced things our generations can’t even fathom.
We chatted for about twenty minutes there by the avocados. He read me some of his poems, told amazing stories about his missions, and got teary as he told me about friends he’d watch die. He probably would have gone on for hours, but his wife eventually came up and said, “There you are, William! Oh, leave that lady alone.”
(She called me “lady.” I liked him better.)
I thanked him for the poems, and for serving our country as he motated away with his wife.
I don’t know how often William scooters around WalMart handing out his poems to produce shoppers, but I was sure glad I was there that day to meet William. He represents a generation of soldiers that will soon be gone.
In celebration of Veterans Day, I thought I’d share a couple of William’s poems. I didn’t ask permission, but since he goes around WalMart handing them out freely to strangers, I don’t think he’ll mind.
“Truth and Light” by William Humphrey
Battle raging, clash of swords,
Lies exalted, truth ignored.
Chance of winning very small.
Backs are up against the wall.
Yet we know in our heart,
Upon the world we’ll leave our mark.
Win or lose, we’ll bravely fight,
Till we slumber, out of sight.
Some day our banner, unfurled, will fly,
We’ll see victory by and by.
Take the sword of truth my friend,
Fight for right until the end.
To the brave will honor go,
In the battle against the foe.
Join the ranks of truth and light,
Give your all in this great fight.
“Fantastic Lady” by William Humphrey
My wife Lois is a knock out,
I think she is real neat.
She has a lot of class,
When walking down the street.
Clothes always look so great
When she’s wearing them.
She adds a lot of charm,
Even to the hem.
She is a lot of fun,
And easy on the eyes.
And oh, how she can cook,
When home baking pies.
She is so kind and thoughtful,
Cheers me when I’m blue.
If I didn’t have her,
I wonder what I’d do.
“Heroes of Bataan” by William Humphrey
Heroes of Bataan had a call to glory and reported everyman.
To defend our rights and freedom, as always in the plan.
The flag was waving in the States, so many miles away.
They gave their all to save it, as the price they had to pay.
These men all are heroes, every single one.
Their brave deeds should be remembered, by every mother’s son.
May we always remember we are the “Land of the free because of the brave.”
Happy Veterans Day to you William, and all our war veterans!