I remember "way back when," when kids were kids, and men were men.
Then wartime turmoils came along, and fathers fought and boys grew strong.
Daddies served in far off places. Mothers worked in factory spaces.
Family ties were torn in two, as folks moved 'round, their shares to do.
The country used its brawn and brains building ships and tanks and planes.
There was a job that must be done, and battles vast that must be won.
Soldiers, sailors and Marines fought, some died, in distant scenes.
Our military served with valor every day and every hour.
Day by day and night by night, peace became a closer sight.
One by one, each battle fought bought the victory we sought.
To those who answered duty's call and kept our nation standing tall,
To those who rallied for our rights, to those who bled in foreign sites,
To men and women, oh so brave, who of themselves so freely gave,
That we might live in this great land, may freely reap their harvest grand,
May live and thrive and have a voice, may freely speak with freedom's voice,
To those who served in honor's ranks, we give our gratitude and thanks.
Adopted by the State of Maryland on Nov. 11, 2005 as its official poem of appreciation for those who served in honor's ranks during World War II
As a kid growing up during the days preceding and during World War II, I recall the impact the war had on everyone I knew. Even before our entry into the war, I saw tanks by the score sitting on railroad flatcars, just waiting to be loaded aboard ships to be transported across the Atlantic to one of the European nations. Once we entered the fray, everything was directed toward winning the wars in Europe and throughout the Pacific. The country seemed to be fully united. I feel that no equivalent era has existed in the United States either before or after that war.
Many of my older friends went off to war. There were blue stars in windows just about every block. Most blocks had flags in several houses. Silver stars were symbolic of the wounded, although some sources say that silver stars represented service overseas. There were also a number of gold stars to be seen for those who had died in the effort. Though we kids never talked about doing it, we would pass those gold star windows in reverent silence and appreciation for the sacrifice the star represented. It wasn't mandatory. It wasn't duty. It was simply right and personal.
To those who served in the many capacities needed to do the horrific task, I take this opportunity to say thanks.
Thomas Henry Wheatley, Md. Poet Laureate Finalist
Poet Laureate, Blue Springs, Canada
World War II
THE FLAG IS FLYING HIGH from Fireside Fellowship
Old Glory always gives a thrill.
I like to think it always will
When breezes send it dancing in the sky.
There's nothing like it in our land
To paint a picture great and grand
That matches when the flag is flying high.
OLD GLORY from Fireside Fellowship
Old Glory paints the passing breeze beneath a brilliant sky
Or waves at us in gesture grand as she goes passing by.
And many fought to let her fly above us every day,
And many died that we may live beneath her grand display.
Long may she fly o'er this great land. Long may her glory be,
And may we all be brave enough to keep our country free.
SOME WORDS OF APPRECIATION
THIS IS MY COUNTRY from Fireside Glow
This is my country, by day and by night,
For two hundred years, a beacon of light,
A bastion of freedom 'neath Old Glory's glow,
Where Liberty's blessings we all get to know.
Yes, this is my country, and long may it be
The home of the brave and the land of the free.
Page Bottom Note:
For many years, Dolly and I have been sending out a poem with our Christmas mailings. See the bottom of this page for the collection of our annual messages.
Some Christmas Time Thoughts
REGIFTING from Fireside Glow (2009)
I searched and searched and searched some more
And went around from store to store.
Until I finally found upon a shelf
The present I was looking for,
A present that would please for sure -
The kind of gift I'd like to give myself.
I gave it to my brother Ed
Who passed it on to Cousin Ned,
Who gave it to his sister Mary Lou.
Mary kept it for a year
Then thought that it would really cheer
Her uncle who lived down in Timbuktu.
Now Uncle kept it on one side
Until he gave it to a bride
Who got the self-same thing at her first shower,
And so she gave away my gift
To Ma-in-Law to mend a rift
That rose about the color of a flower.
Soon Ma-in-Law gave it to Paw
Who said he never ever saw
A gift like that in all his many days.
He oohed and ahhed respectfully
And held it up for all to see
And gave it far too many words of praise,
Which meant, to take him at his word,
He thought the present was absurd.
That's why he gave it to a whatzit store.
So then one day, to my surprise,
I saw before my very eyes
A present that I knew I'd seen before.
I just could not believe my lick.
They priced that thing at just a buck,
And so I stuffed it in my shopping cart.
That's how it passed from hand to hand
And back to me, and that's just grand,
For that's the gift I wanted from the start!
SHOPPING DAZE from Fireside Fellowship (2004)
Twenty-seven shopping days are left 'til Christmas Eve.
There's lot's of time before I have to buy,
And so, I'll put of searching, for in time I do believe
The perfect gift is bound to catch my eye.
. . . . .
There still remain five shopping days. I've plenty time ahead.
No need to panic, worry, frown or fret.
Hmmm! That's what I said long days ago. My how that time has sped.
I must begin to ponder what to get.
. . . . .
Now no more shopping days remain, and Christmas eve is here.
I'd best think fast on what to buy the wife.
That 'perfect gift' will have to wait. It's panic time, I fear.
I hope she likes her brand new hunting knife!
MY NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS from Fireside Glow (2008)
'Tis the night before Christmas. I haven't a clue
On what you'll get me or what I'll get you.
Oh, sure, all the stockings are hung by the chimbly,
And I trimmed the tree nicely, if not very nimbly.
A train in the garden chugs 'round a big tree
Where a star is on top shining bright as can be.
We've a manger scene stuffed with some mouldy old hay
While eight blinking reindeer are pulling a sleigh.
A record plays sounds of each prancing hoof.
There's a big plastic Santa that's perched on the roof.
We put cookies and milk on the mantle tonight
For old Santa himself to be taking a bite.
The children were tucked in their beds long ago,
And I've managed to slip seven times in the snow.
The presents are wrapped and the eggnog is made.
My eyelids are drooping, my nerves are all frayed.
My head is a-pounding like some kettle drum
My nerves are all frazzled and I'm feeling glum.
My back is all achy, my eyes are all red,
And I really can't wait 'til I crawl into bed.
But I feel just as certain that I won't sleep late,
'Cause the kids will be up ere the clock's striking eight.
So that's when I'll rise with a smile on my face,
For there's nothing like Christmas to brighten the place.
CHRISTMAS TIME from Fireside Musings (2001)
Christmas time is showing
In the stores at all the malls,
In the shops along the roadsides
And in all the pine tree stalls.
It's there in all the papers
And on every TV show.
You see it in each Christmas card
And with the folks you know.
Even Santa on the corner
Can be sure to do his part,
But it's never really Christmas
'Til it's Christmas in your heart.
CHEER AND GOODWILL from Fireside Musings (Date?)
Why is it that Christmas cheer
Seems to come but once a year,
And why is it goodwill to men
Only happens now and then?
Each day, take the time to smile
And help to make the day worthwhile.
Be a friend to those you meet,
At home, at work or in the street.
For when you cheer a lonely soul,
You help to make a life worthwhile,
But most of all, you'll find it's true
The one you'll cheer the most is you.
SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED from Fireside Musings (2000)
Some Assembly Required was what the box said.
That scared me not even one bit.
For I was quite handy with hammer and wrench
And puzzles I always made fit.
I opened the box, took out all the parts
And laid them right there on the floor.
"Match A up with Q, and before you are through,
Join B, C and K with R, too."
By three in the morn, I was worn out, forlorn.
This thing's by the devil inspired.
How happy I'll be if I nevermore see
Those three words, "Some Assembly Required!"
THE ACTRESS' ADMIRER from Fireside Musings (1998)
Fifth row from the orchestra, about the third seat in,
He watched as she performed before the lights.
She looked so sweet and fragile in her angel dress of white.
It seemed that she was destined for great heights.
He told her that he loved her as he bid her take her place.
He found it hard to know just what to say.
It was her first big opening. It was her first big show.
His little girl was in the Christmas play.
THE ATTIC from Fireside Musings (1999)
As I rummaged through an attic on an afternoon one day,
I found treasures that so long ago my folks had stored away.
There were pictures of the family - aunt and uncles, cousins, too
And some keepsakes from my childhood days,
which now have long been through.
But there's another trove we carry everywhere.
It's filled with everything we do and all the things we share.
Each of us have memories golden. There are treasures vast to find.
If we take the time to rummage through the attic of our mind.
DO SOMETHING NICE from Fireside Musings 1999
Here's a thought for today and a little advice.
As you go on your way, always do something nice.
Do something nice for a friend down the street.
Do something nice for that stranger you meet.
Do something nice for a pal good and true.
Do something nice for your family, too.
But never forget as you go on your way,
Always do something nice for yourself every day.
ON CHRISTMAS MORN from Fireside Glow 2010
The little lad is sleeping in his little trundle bed
While Sister nods with merry dreams all flowing through her head
When they awake on Christmas morn, they'll hurry down with glee
To see what wondrous Christmas gifts are waiting 'neath the tree.
That brings to mind my Christmas morns when I was but a lad
Depression years were in full swing, and cash could not be had.
A week or two before 'the day', my toys went out of sight
And when I searched around the house, I knew they'd taken flight.
Then I would ask my mom for help to find my play-toy-crop
And Mom just told me Santa Claus was working in his shop.
Then sure enough, on Christmas morn, those toys were 'neath the tree
All gleaming bright with brand new paint, a thrilling sight to see.
The old dump truck was shiny red instead of scratched up white.
My rusty sled was almost new with runners shining bright.
Some dreams are born on Christmas morn,
but you should sow the seeds
That grow the hops and memories on which the dreamer feeds.
So let this little tale of mine become a lesson grand.
It's up to you to set the stage - to build on rock or sand.
In September of 2010, I was designated the Poet Laureate of Blue Springs, an international gathering of 1000 to 1500 Scout leaders attending the Blue Springs Gilwell Reunion. I've has been writing a Scouting poem for the event each year beginning in 1996, distributing 400 to 500 signed copies each year. In recent years, my work has also graced the final page of their official publication, Log 'N' Beads.
The Gift of Christmasfrom Fireside Glow 2011
Look for the ribbons, look for the strings.
Look for the wrappings that the season brings
Listen to the carols, listen to the bells,
Drifting 'round the countryside,
drifting through the dells.
Sights of the season bring a true delignt
Pine trees make a sea of green.
Snowdrifts glisten white.
Hark to the magic. Hark to the spells.
Hark to the message that the season tells.
Christmas brings us memories,
friendships, joy and smiles,
Bringing folks together all across the years and miles.
The gifts we give and those we get
too soon will fade away,
But the lasting gift of Christmas
is the gift of Christmas day.
Each year, Dolly and I send out our Christmas cards, as do millions of others the woirld around. However, in recent years we have been using one of my poems as either an enclosure or as the main body of the card itself. While most feature the subject of some aspect of Christmas, a few have presented a thought of inspiration on life in general. Here are those I recall.
This is a photo of the 15-star, 15-stripe Star Spangled banner, of which Key wrote so eloquently back in 1814. This particular pnoto was taken at Fort McHenry, where they regularly fly a 30 X 42 fot replica of the original. If you are fortunate enough to be there when it's flag lowering time, you may be invited to share in the ceremony. It's an inspiring experience!
WAVING IN THE BREEZEfrom Fireside Glow
I'm riding down Fort avenue, to where we made our stand.
To where the red and white and blue still waves in manner grand.
In 1814, bold it flew, back in those days of yore
When Baltimore was fighting through its bloody days of war.
Fifteen stars and fifteen stripes flew high to represent our nation.
To fight the Brits as they drew nigh and block their occupation.
I picture Key thgroughout the fight. The rockess' glare he sees.
Old Glory makes it through the night, still waving in the breeze.
Today we still can glimpse that sight, a sight that's sure to please.
Old Glory flies both day and night, just waving in the breeze.
LET US BE THANKFULfrom Fireside Musings 2012
Let us be thankful for moments we share;
Those days that are painful, those days that are fair.
Let us be thankful for family and friends,
And for all of the blessings that God above sends.
(Unlike most of the other poems I've used for my Christmas cards, this one doesn't actually have a Christmas theme. However, I believe it to be suitable as a grace for any gathering of family or friends. Since Christmas tends to be one such gathering, it seems fully appropriate.)