Chuck Toll


Native Son


Our small New England town buried a son yesterday,
A young soldier killed on duty in Afghanistan.
It was our first casualty in struggles far away
But, as it had proved, not sufficiently removed.

At the church service, his brother recalled
How he was tough, but with children gentle
As a butterfly. ‘Now I won’t worry any more, ’
His mother wept. ‘He is safe now.’

The funeral procession made its somber way
Under skies gunmetal gray and threatening rain.
Hand-drawn tributes to “our hero” lined the route,
And small flags provided by the VFW.

The young soldier was buried with military honors
In the town cemetery, the governor present,
And a presidential hopeful not unmindful of
Where the nation’s first primary is held.

The paper gave its native son front-page coverage
Complete with photos of his young, round face,
Smiling beneath his helmet, a cheerful tourist
In a strange and sandy land.

The story recalled the young man’s skill at sports,
And mentioned high school records still left standing.
He enlisted out of school, it said, and saw duty
In South Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan.

In his last posting, he led a sniper team.
He saw action, killed. And half a world away
Other villages mourn sons and daughters
Lost to his unerring eye.

Submitted: Sunday, July 29, 2007
Edited: Friday, March 25, 2011

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Comments about this poem (Native Son by Chuck Toll )

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  • Rookie Sonny Rainshine (10/14/2007 8:48:00 AM)

    After mellenia of history, after having walked on the moon, after having seen the horror of concentration camps and massacres of indigenous people, after all we've learned as human beings, we still engage in the barbarianism of warfare. The smiling, healthy, eager faces of young men and woman will always haunt us, not matter which nation they happened to have been born in. Moving and insightful poem, Chuck. Keep up the good work. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Colin J... (10/13/2007 1:47:00 PM)

    And half a world away
    Other villages mourn sons and daughters
    Lost to his unerring eye.

    You have brought the horror of war to us all..
    All parents lose loved ones, no matter who is right or wrong.
    Are any of us totally right...
    Colin J... (Report) Reply

Read all 2 comments »

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