John F. McCullagh

Gold Star - 4,741 Points (09/28/1954 / Flushing)

Section J Row 4 Grave 25 - Poem by John F. McCullagh

Section J Row 4 Grave 25

Memorial Day,1945

With aching knees he climbed the steps
That ringed the bandstand round.
The Living sat on folding chairs
on consecrated ground.

The general turned and faced the dead,
His back was to the living.
He told his boys, dead heroes all,
He hoped they'd be forgiving.

The fight was hard at Anzio
The foe ringed them around.
Through desperate days in mad forays
They paid with blood for ground.

The cost proved high, so many dead
Still others maimed for life.
It is not sweet or glorious
to die in pain and strife..

If his mistakes had caused their deaths
He hoped they would forgive.
For only men prepared to die
Are men prepared to live.

And if some fool should ever speak
Of glorious death in battle
He’d set them straight, at any rate,
About such stupid prattle..

Jack Toffey in his coffin lies
Among eight Thousand others.
White Crosses mark the resting place
of Jack and all his brothers.

This is based on an actual Memorial Day speech given by General Lucian Truscott at the Nettino Military cemetery a few weeks after the victory in Europe. He served under General Mark Clark and commanded the salient at Anzio.
Lt. Col. John J. Toffey Jr, twice winner of the Silver Star, died in the fighting at the town of Palestrina, Italy, which is famous for its roses.

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Poem Submitted: Sunday, August 15, 2010

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