John F. McCullagh

Silver Star - 4,462 Points (09/28/1954 / Flushing)

The Libation Bearer - Poem by John F. McCullagh

The day is grey, the clouds hang low, and, in the air, a winter chill.
Upon the beach called Omaha an old soldier stands; a promise to fulfill.
Full Seventy years ago this man, weighted down with gear and kit,
raced across this wet grey sand, and, by some miracle, remained unhit.
Friends who'd survived that longest day, and all the long days after it,
had purchased the bottle held in his hands. As the last man standing
he had charge of it:

His eyes, watery from the wind, Looked at the bottle in his hands:
A Dom Perignon Brut Champagne, the 47' vintage year.
He thought about his comrades gone. Surely they were heroes all
Who spilled out from the Higgins boats to breach the Hun's Atlantic wall.
He felt the presence of the ghosts, all those who fell upon this shore.
Boys, really, almost all eighteen, who'd died
answering Freedom's call.

He tore the foil with old gnarled hands; His Arthritis made a chore of this.
Thin wire held the cork in place and was so difficult to untwist.
Once free his placed his thumbs upon the curved underbelly of the cork
The cork shot free across the sand and bubbly foam
chased after it.

He was not a religious man, it seemed impious for him to pray
Though he recalled so many had, that day they bled their lives away.
How best to honor these fallen men? Who had pledged their lives, each to each.
It was then he turned the bottle down and poured the contents
on the beach.

Some would declare it sacrilege to let that vintage go to waste.
The old soldier smiled and felt at peace.
He'd seen the vintage of 26' poured out in buckets
In this very place..

Topic(s) of this poem: ode

Poet's Notes about The Poem

On Veteran's day 2014, the last surviving member of his platoon performs a last duty to the fallen.

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Poem Submitted: Sunday, January 10, 2016

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