Native Son - Poem by Chuck Toll
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.
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