by Joseph M. Mishler

From head to toe,
Cell to cell,
Bone to bone,
Nerve to nerve,
Sweat to blood,
Thought to word,
From word to deed,

I am a grunt.

From the corn and creek of Antietam,
From the wheat and stone of Gettysburg,
From the Plains grass to the western mountains,
From the swelter of San Juan Hill,
From the mud of Chateau Thierry and Belleau Woods,
From Pearl to the Aleutian shores,

I am a grunt.

From the jungles of Bataan,
From the Italian peaks to the African deserts,
From the beaches of Normandy to the rubble of Germany,
From the sand of Wake to the volcanic rock of Iwo,
From the Yalu to Pusan,
From the Delta to the DMZ,

I am a grunt.

From the Carribean to the Canal,
From the Cradle of Civilization to the Persian Deserts,
From the Rocky Afghan Precipices,
From the snow to the rain,
From the rice to the poppies,
From the triple canopy to the sandy beaches,

I am a grunt.

From the heavy boots,
From the heavy ruck,
From the heavy weapon,
From the heavy gear,
From the heavy helmet,
From the lousy rations,

I am grunt.

I’m the GI,
I’m the bayonet,
I’m the foreign policy
I’m the action,
I’m the blood and guts,
I’m freedom’s protector,
From finger to trigger….

I am a grunt.

(written 4/14/2008, 6/19/2008, 3/17/2013, 4/21/2021, jmm)

by Joseph Michael Mishler

It’s time, the voice said.

A cedar wood box
Locked securely.
A hidden chapter.
Unopened for over a century.
Stored in the attic.

I am yours, the voice said.

History surrounded by cedar
The contents wait.
The contents a secret.
A violent chapter remains unknown.
The key to our past is held tight.

Open and learn, the voice suggested.
Guns are long silenced.
The price of war buried.
The Republic prevailed.
Honors given, monuments erected.

Open the box, the voice said.

The new owner hesitated.
Held the box carefully.
Examines the lock.
Unsure of what to do.
He is compelled to act.

Open the box, the voice insisted.

The box sits before him
Anxious to free its contents.  
The lock snapped open
Patient, waiting to be opened.
The top lifts up easily
Revealing a battered regimental flag.
The box’s contents breathe,
Knowing it is only a matter of seconds.

Unwrap the flag, the voice commanded.

Carefully he acted.
Tissue paper pulled back.
Regimental flag unfolded.                 
A soldier’s picture comes into view.
Picture resting on a soldier’s hat.

Thank you, the voice replied.

Beneath the hat.
Wrapped with ribbon.
A stack of letters.
Neatly arranged.
A medal pinned to a card.

Yes, the Medal of Honor, whispered the voice.