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Below are selected classic and contemporary poems, posted in observance of Veterans Day and Remembrance Day.

Badger Clark
Jeff Hart
Others

John McCrae
In Flanders Fields

Joel Nelson
Inside War

Byrd Woodward
Feather Henry
His Land

Chris Isaacs
Michael Bia

Rod McQueary
lander evening

Rod Nichols
A Dads' Prayer

Mike Puhallo
Lest We Forget

Hal Swift
The Patriot

Jean Mathisen Haugen
The Cost

Henry Herbert Knibbs
Sunlight

Kate Putnam Osgood
Driving Home the Cows

 


Our Friends in Uniform
We welcome your photos (and those of family members)
 in uniform to add to these pages Email us.

Read about Jeri Dobrowski's veterans' photos below


Elsewhere on the web:

Veterans History Project
The American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress

Veterans Day
The Library of Congress American Memory Project

Veterans Day
Department of Veterans Affairs

The History of Veterans Day 
From the U. S. Army Center for Military History

History of Veterans Day video
From History.com

Disabled American Veterans (DAV)

Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)

Remembrance Day
Veterans Affairs Canada

Remembrance Day
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)

The Royal Canadian Legion
The Poppy and Remembrance

Remembrance Day
Veterans' Affairs Australia

Remembrance Day
Australian War Memorial


Flanders Fields Museum

 




2013

Veterans Day stories, interviews, and more with respected broadcaster Francie Ganje on the Heritage of the American West. Listen and read here.

 


 


2013

Healing the Warrior's Heart is a public television special from the Western Folklife Center that explores the centuries-old spiritual traditions that Native American communities use to help returning soldiers recover from the emotional trauma of war.
Find more here at the Western Fokllife Center, including a film trailer, photos, a blog, and more.

 


 

Ken Rodgers' and Betty K. Rodgers' remarkable documentary, Bravo! Common Men, Uncommon Valor, includes the first-hand stories of veterans of the 77-day Siege of Khe Sanh, Vietnam, Ken Rodgers and other men of the Bravo Company-First Battalion, 26th Marine Regiment. Ray Doyle's music is a part of the film. See video trailers at the Bravo the Project site here.

In November, 2013, Dialogue on Idaho Public Television presented a conversation with the filmmakers and Steve Wiese, also a part of the battle and the film. Watch the episode here and also view the extra footage that continues the conversation. Idaho Public Television showed the entire film on November 10, at 7 PM.

Find more about Bravo! Common Men, Uncommon Valor on Facebook, Facebook, and at bravotheproject.com , where the film is available on DVD.
 


 

Memorial Day poems at CowboyPoetry.com

 



Jeff Hart

Jeff Hart rode out of the gulch to war
     When the low sun yellowed the pines.
He waved to his folks in the cabin door
     And yelled to the men at the mines.
The gulch kept watch till he dropped from sight—
     Neighbors and girl and kin.
Jeff Hart rode out of the gulch one night;
     Next morning the world came in.

His dad went back to the clinking drills
     And his mother cooked for the men;
The pines branched black on the eastern hills,
     Then black to the west again.
But never again, by dusk or dawn,
     Were the days in the gulch the same,
For back up the hill Jeff Hart had gone
     The trample of millions came.

Then never a clatter of dynamite
     But echoed the guns of the Aisne,
And the coyote's wail in the woods at night
     Was bitter with Belgium's pain.
We hear the snarl of a savage sea
     In the pines when the wind went through,
And the strangers Jeff Hart fought to free
     Grew folks to the folks he knew.

Jeff Hart has drifted for good and all,
     To the ghostly bugles blown,
But the far French valley that saw him fall
     Blood kin to the gulch is grown;
And his foreign folks are ours by right—
     The friends that he died to win.
Jeff Hart rode out of the gulch one night;
     Next morning the world came in.

by  Charles Badger Clark, from Sun and Saddle Leather, 1915


Hal Swift recites "Jeff Hart" on
The BAR-D Roundup: Volume Five

See the poem here as published in Collier's magazine, March 22, 1919



Others

The daybreak comes so pure and still.
He said that I was pure as dawn,
That day we climbed to Signal Hill.
Back there before the war came on.
God keep me pure as he is brave,
And fit to take his name.
I let him go and fight to save
Some other girl from shame.

Across the gulch it glimmers white,
The little house we plotted for.
We would be sitting here tonight
If he had never gone to war

The firelight and the cricket's cheep,
My arm around his neck

I let him go and fight to keep
Some other home from wreck.

And every day I ride to town
The wide lands talk to me of him

The slopes with pine trees marching down,
The spread-out prairies, blue and dim.
He loved it for the freedom's sake
Almost as he loved me.
I let him go and fight to make
Some other country free.

by  Charles Badger Clark, from Sun and Saddle Leather, 1915

 

Read more about Badger Clark and his poetry here.

 

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

by John McCrae (1872-1918), from In Flanders Fields and Other Poems, 1919

 

For more about John McCrea: Full text of In Flanders Fields and Other Poems; The Royal Canadian Legion

 

Inside War

We read stories of Wars

Hist’ries written on pages

And records of battle

Drawn on walls of the cave

Read of Glory and Honor

And Right through the ages

And all those who fell

‘Neath the crest of the knave

 

The themes are eternal

Of wars on the ocean

Of axes and swords

On the Otterburn Plain

The ninety gun Frigates

The horsemen in motion

The bleeding has stopped

But the stories remain

 

There are terms of Armistice

And flags of surrender

This war fought for freedom

That war saved a race

Twixt  savages  cruel

Or soldiers yet tender

The scholars record them

And each has its place

 

Some go unrecorded

Wars fought self-contained

Conflicts never ending

No respite or truce

For the foe lives within

Lashing out unrestrained

And the warrior wears thin

From the battles’ abuse

 

The shelling subsides

Then intensity quickens

With most unaware

Of the state of the war

Leaving soldier and loved ones

With Conflict that thickens

Outsiders observing

The scene from afar

 

There is only so long

Any warrior can battle

‘Til he must succumb

To the enemy inside

So loosening the reins

Stepping down from the saddle

Heaving sigh of relief

He will cease his long ride

 

His allies left standing

Gather somewhat uncertain

Refraining from judgment

United by love

Acknowledging peacetime

And drawing the curtain

Leaving all in the hands

Of the Maker above

© 2008, Joel Nelson
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without written permission.


Read more about Joel Nelson and his poetry here.

Feather Henry

He was known as Feather Henry on th' ranches hereabout,      
Whenever you needed an extra hand, you'd hunt young Henry out.
Th' sign fer him was a hawk feather hung out on th' rancher's gate,
Sure enough, he'd show up in a week or so, dependable as fate.

Steppin' out on th' porch, you'd find 'im, hunched up aginst th' rain.
On his head he wore a cowpoke's hat that blew in off th' plain,
In th' band there was a feather from a high flyin' red-tailed hawk;
He'd have set out there a week, I guess, before you'd get him to knock;

Henry was born to a white girl who hadn't known 'gee' from 'haw,'
And a scared young Nez Perce' man runnin' hard from th' county law.
The boy was ten when his ma was drowned in a canyon flood;
His granddad turned th' kid away, couldn't bear his Indian blood.

Feather Henry would rake or mow or plow... do most any chore;
He slept in tack shacks an' woodsheds, ate at th' kitchen door.
Kindly ranch women kept him in duds, hand-me-downs from their kids,
Any one of them would have let him stay on... but Henry never did.

He moved around th' valley, showin' up when an' where he was needed
With hayin' or lambin' or when it was time t' get th' garden weeded.
One day Jed Grant found out by chance where Henry's true talents lay...
He could gentle a wild colt quiet, and do it in less than a day.

Henry could do some of lots of things, but when it came to a horse,
He could outshine anyone around, with light from an inner source.
Henry would whisper his horse talk, keepin' his hat down low,
He'd call wild ones out of th' hills, or in from th' prairies below.

Legend said Nez Perce' knew horses, Appaloosas were their pride;
Decked out in fancy trappin's, they showed th' Crow how t' ride. 
The word went 'round like wildfire...Feather Henry's fame soon grew;
Said he'd always called ponies an' hawks...th' white folks just never knew.

When it seemed no one livin' had the power t' calm those crazy eyes,
Henry'd lean quiet up aginst th' corral, backed by a blazin' sunrise.
Filled with doubt, th' throbbin' blood poured through th' critter's veins,
With flashin' hooves an' shudderin' hide, fear raced through their brains.

Th' boy would wait, still as a stone, 'til th' worst of it had passed,
Then he'd move slow, takin' the sun's glare out of their eyes at last.
Henry'd hunch his back up waitin' 'til he felt th' first shy move,
Then he'd cock his head  an' drop his hip t' show that he approved.

Their noddin' heads an' canted eyes would answer only to him...
He'd shoulder in, layin' his hands on th' young'un's quivverin' skins.
Nudgin' an' turnin'...walkin' away... speakin' in tongues of their own,
I never once saw Feather Henry come close t' bein' thrown.

I knew I'd been seein' wonders performed before my very eyes;
When I said as much t' Henry, he just looked at me, surprised.
He never seemed to comprehend the way that he'd been blessed,
Or even why th' rest of us had always seemed impressed.

Th' boy grew up to be a man, we'd come t' take him fer granted,
Stickin' some feathers up on th' gate whenever we needed his talent;
Time went by an' as things changed, th' country went t' war,
It was some other folks' fight in Asia, just like we'd done before.

Henry talked war talk like th' rest of us but no one thought he'd go,
Then he joined up an' spent his boot camp in a place called Quantico.
Henry went t' 'Nam an' when they shipped him an' his medals back,
We put him t' rest the Nez Perce' way... with hawk feathers in our hats.

© 2001, Byrd Woodward
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Byrd Woodward writes, "The young man in the poem is real, he just wasn't a whisperer.....he was a fellow my brother went to high school with, a talented writer and poet.....I've often wondered what we've missed by his death...I thought his work was wonderful."

 

His Land

In the desert southwest sits a ranch house, distressed
By weather, time and neglect...
The shiplap is faded and the whole place leans
A tad to the left of erect.

An old cowboy sits out on his front porch,
Smoking a roll-your-own cigarette;
Since the radio quit, the paper's the only
Fresh news he's been able to get.

It lays on his lap as he sits in the dusk,
His face a map on old leather...
His thin hair combed over the top of his head,
The dog and him there together.

The old rocker creaks as he starts to read,
Hands shaking like new aspen leaves,
The front page photo shows two New York towers,
Shocked eyes register his disbelief.

The acres he owns were deeded to him by
His best friend who died in the War.
With no kith or kin, Frank cried, dying there,
"It's my land I've been fightin' for!

Now, you got to take it, Hab," he had said.
"Make it your dream in place of mine,
Although you know nothin' of ranchin' and cows,
You'll learn...an' make out just fine."

When the fight was done, he'd come to this place,
Dry land, but with one real good well.
It reminded Hab of the place he'd been born.
Searing heat like the fires out of hell;

Frank's dream lived in his soul through the long years,
It became his one guiding light.
The learning cost pride and bone breaking work,
But it gained him four boys and a wife.

They'd built a ranch on the bare piece of ground
That his buddy gave his life for;
His beloved wife died after thirty good years,
The sons were gone by seventy-four.

He lives here alone with his memories and
Talks to the one horse he keeps,
Along with his dog Kush, and some chickens,
A cow and a few head of sheep.

The old hand shivers and weeps in the dark,
Then rises at the first show of light
To go fetch his faded World War II flag,
His march at Bataan in his mind.

Many friends died in that hellish time, but
Back then the enemy was clear;
Now we must fight cruel cowards who will strike
The ideals this country holds dear.

He hangs "Old Glory" from its place on the porch,
Stands at attention out in the dirt...
And sings for the flag he fought to defend...
His uniform an old cowboy shirt.

The place of his birth is far, far away,
He sings with an accented voice.
The stirring anthem of the United States,
The Land that's his... only by choice. 

© 2001, Byrd Woodward
 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

This poem is included in our September 11th memorial feature.

Read more about Byrd Woodward and her poetry here.


Michael Bia

You spent your childhood wild and free,
And none of us could then foresee
How you'd touch our lives, or to what degree.
We never knew you, Michael Bia.

You life was in the land and sky;
Vermillion cliffs and mesas high.
These were yours to occupy.
You were of Diné, Michael Bia.

You rode the bulls and rode them well,
But you wouldn't leave the reservation's Citadel
Though it was known you could excel.
Ah, you could ride 'em Michael Bia.

The White House called; you left your land,
And off you went to Viet Nam,
To a war you did not understand.
You did your duty, Michael Bia.

You fought with honor and with pride,
But before the fighting could subside
In that far off land, you died.
You gave the ultimate, Michael Bia.

At Window Rock in sixty-eight
They turned a bull out of the gate,
And his bell rang loud to reiterate
Our thank you, Michael Bia.

Dine [mark], and white men, too
Stood and shed a tear for you;
And though your time on earth is through
May God keep you, Michael Bia.

Now often when I think of the past
Or cross that reservation vast,
Or see Old Glory at half-mast,
I think of Michael Bia.

Ya'at'eeh, Hastiin!  (Ya-ta-hey, Has-teen!)

© 2001, Chris Isaacs
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Diné is what the Navajos call themselves; it means "The People."

Chris Isaacs writes about this poem:

There are things that happen in our lives that we have absolutely no control over, which become a part of us forever. Such was the case with the poem about Michael Bia.

I got out of the U. S. Marine Corps in January of 1967 just as things were really starting to heat up in Vietnam.  Michael Bia was leading the bull riding standings for the AIRCA when he was drafted and sent to Viet Nam just about the time I was discharged.  He never came home.

In 1968 my wife Helena and I were at the Fourth of July rodeo in Window Rock, Arizona, where I was entered when something happened that haunted me for years. The Navajo tribe paid tribute to Michael Bia at that rodeo by taking his chaps and spurs and attaching them to a bull with Michael's bull rope and then turning the bull loose in the arena during a moment of silence. Nothing has ever affected me quite like that short moment of tribute to a fellow cowboy/comrade-in-arms, and I have thought of it many, many times over the years...The first time that I tried to recite it, I broke down and cried, which kept me from trying it again for quite a while. Then in 1997 at the Elko Cowboy Poetry Gathering I was on the Veterans' Session with Joel Nelson, Rod McQueary, and some others, and managed to get through the entire thing...I have had many Vets thank me for the poem, which means a great deal to me...I did a show near Washington, D. C. a few years ago, and made it to the Wall (the Vietnam Memorial) where I found Michael's name...

excerpted from Chris Isaacs' Will Rogers Medallion Award winning book, Rhymes, Reasons and Pack Saddle Proverbs

 

Read more about Chris Isaacs and his poetry here and at his web site.

 

lander evening

from Gloria

Bill used to mention
Vietnam sometimes—
Snippets of story
I heard but never
felt.
He might have been describing
Mars or
Disneyland
It was an untouchable
Part of his past.

Last October,
Our Pastor told the Bishop
About Bill's poetry.
While he was here, he
Dropped by.
Bill did his funny ones
Two or three
And mentioned in passing
He had written some
Serious Poems
     About his war.

The Bishop asked to hear one, so
Bill went away and came
Back with
"Body Burning Detail."
Halfway through it,
He broke down.

I just remember him
Sitting there,
Shaking,
His agony
His anguish
Pouring down his face
And suddenly,
     For me,
It was real.
I could feel
     with my heart
     and soul
What he could never
Describe
I think
I began to
Understand.

from the Bishop

I have a natural connection
With Bill
My Great-Aunt was born
near the ranch where
He works.
I like cowboys
Love Poetry,
enjoyed his story
about coming to Lander
to Recover.
He recited some funny poems,
We laughed and laughed.
It's all great

Then Bill said
There is something I've never
     Read before I wonder
If it would be all right.
He took it out
began to read.
It became quiet
By the time he had to stop
We all were weeping.
When it was over,
We sat and talked
     and prayed.

I have used Bill's poem
Several times
Since then,

and I carry it with me.

from Bill

I almost couldn't get through
"Body Burning Detail."
I tried
But I couldn't
     Speak.
The Bishop said
I'm so sorry
     so sorry,
You don't have to 
finish it
     and I said
Yes I do
Yes
     I do

© 1993, Rod McQueary, All rights reserved
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

This poem is from Blood Trails, published in 1993 by Rod McQueary and Bill Jones, a collection of poems from their Vietnam experiences.  

Read more about Rod McQueary and his poetry here.

 

A Dad's Prayer

An old man's sittin' here tonight
by news-talk radio
so maybe he will hear some word
on how the war might go.

He's list'nin' hard and prayin' too
his son now in Iraq,
Dear Lord if You might see Your way
to bring him safely back.

He wasn't told he had to go,
he upped and volunteered.
His reasons made his dad feel proud
but that don't ease the fear.

I love him Lord and miss him so,
his smile and youthful ways.
Don't let the cruelty of this war
now harden him these days.

He's never faced an enemy
who values life so cheap.
He's always seen the good in man
his word a thing to keep.

He sees it as his duty Lord
to be the first to fight
and proudly stand to face the foe
of all we hold as right.

But somewhere over there tonight
he might have thoughts of home.
Would you just let him know for me
he's not out there alone.

I thank you Lord and I'll be here
by news-talk radio,
to listen and receive some word
on how the war might go.

© 2006, Rod Nichols
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.


Rod Nichols wrote this poem in October 2006 for his son, Dennis, serving our country in Iraq.  Rod told us it was written, also "for those who have loved ones overseas." Rod adds, "God bless all our  men and women in uniform where ever they may be around the world. They are the best our nation can offer in the defense of freedom."

Read more about Rod Nichols and his poetry here.

 

Lest We Forget

"Never again," was the heartfelt motto,
"Lest We Forget," became the Veteran's Day theme,
But the big guns did not long stay silent.
And Peace is still a will o' wisp dream.
In the "war to end all wars,"
I had one grandfather on each side.
For my parents, my brothers, sisters and I
It's fortunate neither one died.
Both fought for God and Country,
Believing their cause was just,
Nights they would pray, they'd live to the day,
When the big guns would all turn to rust.
Lest we forget,
 The thousands who died in the trenches,
The millions who have perished in pain,
We owe it to all the victims of war,
To keep striving for, "Never again!"

© 2005, Mike Puhallo
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Read more about Mike Puhallo and his poetry here.

 

The Patriot

At the close of the day, an old cowboy sets
kinda quiet in the old porch swing.
Now and then he'll softly whistle a tune,
or maybe he'll start to sing.

Then he'll change his mind and waggle his head,
and close his eyes in thought.
He thinks of Korea, the war over there,
and some of the lessons it taught.

When his gaze wanders over to the nearby hills,
he recalls how they look when it snows.
He studies the flag that he raised this mornin',
how it moves when the west wind blows.

If you look real close you'll see that a tear
gives a hint of some inner strife.
His mind's eye's seein' the faces of friends,
who long ago left this life.

The flag waves gently in the sunset sky,
and the old man raises his chin.
In his mind he's hearin' the sound of drums,
and he waits for the tune to begin.

When it does, his step is strong and brisk,
as he marches out to the flag.
He stops and stands there, watchin' it wave,
wipes his eyes with a pocket rag.

He continues his march to the old corral,
where his Morgan comes over to talk.
He saddles him up, and climbs on top,
and heads him out for a walk.

On a hill, he wonders if the whole blamed thing
was worth all the friends he lost.
Headin' home, he knows down deep in his heart,
he too, would have paid the cost.

Yeah, he shared the peril, but he returned
to his home in the sand and the sage.
Then, back at his flag, he thanks all his pards
for lettin' him reach old age.

© 2004, Hal Swift
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 
"The Patriot" has been featured in many programs and observances. Each year, Hal Swift receives requests for its use.

Our thanks to Hal Swift for sharing this poem for Veteran's Day, 2004, and to his friend Smitty for sharing the photo of their Navy days.

Hal told us "I didn't do anything especially outstanding during the Korean War. I just sat in a radio room aboard ship, sending and receiving Morse Code messages. I got a little 'dit-happy' as they used to say about us radio operators, but I didn't go through any of the hardships and danger the men and women on land did."

Read more about Hal Swift and his poetry here.

 

The Cost

Brother Gene was the first to die
from here in the Great War.
He drowned while training
in San Diego Bay.
They brought his body home
and buried him high upon the hill
and what has
Anna Terry left to say.
 
Spanish flu claimed Brother George
and daughter Inez too
in November, 1918 is
what the tombstone has to say.
The memories haunt her still—
she's bent and worn and tired
and how much more will
Anna Terry pay?

Twenty years would pass away
and World War II would come,
Son Jack signed to be a sailor
on the quay.
He loved to hear the ocean,
loved the light upon the waves
and there stood
Anna Terry in dismay.
 
The time crept by
as battles did
and then came the sad word
by telegram and what it had to say—
the ship went down
and all hands too—
no bodies to come home.
And how much more
will Anna Terry pay?

© 2000, Jean A. Mathisen    
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Jean adds:


Jack Terry, United States Navy
World War II
died in the South Pacific
 

Jack Allen Terry was my Mom's first cousin.  He went down with the U.S.S. Liscomb Bay in November, 1943 and was my great aunt Anna Terry's youngest son. He died at age 21. Two other sailors from here [Lander, Wyoming], the Homec brothers from Hudson went down on the same ship. I believe about 300 men were never recovered—it was in the South Pacific. 

Above is the poem I wrote about Aunt Anna (she lost 4 out of 7 children) so others had to pay the price for the wars, too.  The poem was published  in a book in 2000, The Price of Freedom: Volume II Unforgotten Heroes.  
Lander has just built an impressive Veterans Memorial for all wars in our court house park and the statue that will be placed there is of the artist John Phelps of Dubois, son who was killed early in the Iraq war. The memorial lists all the veterans from Fremont County from the Civil War on down.  While Teddy Roosevelt had his Rough Riders in the Spanish American War of 1898, Wyoming also had a group of cowboys who made up Torrey's Rough Riders who also went to the war--they were cowboys from Montana, Wyoming and Colorado.  Unfortunately, they never got to fight and were killed in a train wreck near Tupelo, Mississippi and some died of fever in Florida.  

My dad and his brother Bill served in World War II and his uncle, Sam Mathisen, served in World War I.   My grandfather, John Hornecker, was sent to the Mexican Border during the uprising with Pancho Villa, along with his brother Ralph, in 1916 and they were sent to fight in France when the war began over there.   


Jean shared two more photos, and described them, "...the memorial to the Fifth Cavalry in the old post cemetery at Fort Washakie near Lander and the grave of Chief Washakie of the Eastern Shoshones—he was the only chief accorded the military burial honors of the rank of Captain and that was done when he died at age 104 in Feb. 1900. He headed up his 125 Shoshone scouts at the Battle of the Rosebud in Montana in 1876 (he was around 80 years old at the time). He was mostly known as a peaceful man but was also known as a fierce warrior.  His scouts saved the Crow scouts and some of General Crook's men at the battle.

 

Read more about Jean Mathisen Haugen and her poetry here.

 

Sunlight

Sunlight, a colt from the ranges, glossy and gentle and strong,
     Dazed by the multiple thunder of wheels and the thrust of the sea,
Fretted and chafed at the changes--ah, but the journey was long!
     Officer's charger--a wonder--pick of the stables was he.

Flutter of flags in the harbor; rumble of guns in the street;
     England! and rhythm of marching; mist and the swing of the tide;
France and an Oriflamme arbor of lilies that drooped in the heat;
     Sunlight, with mighty neck arching, flecked with the foam of his pride!

Out from the trenches retreating, weary and grimy and worn,
     Lean little men paused to cheer him, turning to pass to their rest;
Shrilled him a pitiful greeting, mocking the promise of morn
     With hope and wild laughter to hear him answer with challenging zest.

Victory! That was the spirit!  Once they had answered the thrill;
     Toiled at the guns while incessant sang that invisible, dread
Burden of death.  Ah, to hear it, merciless, animate, shrill,
     Whining aloft in a crescent, shattering living and dead!

And Sunlight?  What knew he of battle?  Strange was this turmoil and haste.
     Why should he flinch at the firing; swerve at the mangled and slain?
Where was the range and the cattle?  Here was but carnage and waste;
     Yet with a patience untiring he answered to spur and to rein.

Answered, when, out of disorder, rout, and the chaos of night,
     Came the command to his master, "Cover the Seventh's retreat!"
On, toward the flame of the border, into the brunt of the fight,
     Swept that wild wind of disaster, on with the tide of defeat.

Softly the dawn-wind awaking fluttered a pennant that fell
     Over the semblance of Sunlight, stark in the pitiless day;
Riddled and slashed by the bullets sped from the pit of that hell . . .
     Groaning, his master, beside him, patted his neck where he lay.

"Sunlight, it was n't for glory . . . England . . . or France . . . or the fame
     Of victory . . . No . . . not the glowing tribute of history's pen.
Good-bye, old chap, for I'm going . . . earned it . . . your death is a shame . . .
     We fought for the world, not an Island . . . We fought for the honor of men."

 . . . . . . . . . . . .

So we have sold them our horses. What shall we do with the gold?
     Lay it on Charity's altar, purchasing columns of praise?
Noble indeed are our courses; running the race as of old;
     But why should we Mammonites falter?  Noble indeed are our ways.

by Henry Herbert Knibbs, from Riders of the Stars, 1916

A South Dakota Public television feature on wild horses reports about World War I being "the last cavalry battle":

Well before the United States sent its men into the fray, another resource had been drafted—its horses. World War I resembled the classic cavalry battle. But the new weapons of war proved devastating to the cavalrymen and their mounts. This war was was demarcated by impenetrable barbed wire. Machine guns massacred man and horse alike with little or no direct contact with their enemies. The horse's utility in battle was over. The death of millions of horses in this war drastically reduced the world's equine population.

Some estimates hold that six million horses served in the war zones of American troops. Most of them were killed. In the four years of the war, the United States was left with a seriously depleted stock of horses in America...

Read more about Henry Herbert Knibbs and his poetry here.

Driving Home the Cows

Out of the clover and blue-eyed grass
He turned them into the river-lane;
One after another he let them pass,
Then fastened the meadow-bars again.

Under the willows, and over the hill,
He patiently followed their sober pace;
The merry whistle for once was still,
And something shadowed the sunny face.

Only a boy! and his father had said
He never could let his youngest go:
Two already were lying dead
Under the feet of the trampling foe.

But after the evening work was done,
And the frogs were loud in the meadow-swamp,
Over his shoulder he slung his gun
And stealthily followed the foot-path damp.

Across the clover, and through the wheat,
With resolute heart and purpose grim,
Though cold was the dew on his hurrying feet
And the blind bat’s flitting startled him.

Thrice since then had the lanes been white,
And the orchards sweet with apple-bloom;
And now, when the cows came back at night,
The feeble father drove them home.

For news had come to the lonely farm
That three were lying where two had lain;
And the old man’s tremulous, palsied arm
Could never lean on a son’s again.

The summer day grew cool and late.
He went for the cows when the work was done;
But down the lane, as he opened the gate,
He saw them coming one by one:

Brindle, Ebony, Speckle, and Bess,
Shaking their horns in the evening wind;
Cropping the buttercups out of the grass –
But who was it following close behind?

Loosely swung in the idle air
The empty sleeve of army blue;
And worn and pale, from the crisping hair,
Looked out a face that the father knew.

For Southern prisons will sometimes yawn,
And yield their dead unto life again;
And the day that comes with a cloudy dawn
In golden glory at last may wane.

The great tears sprang to their meeting eyes;
For the heart must speak when the lips are dumb:
And under the silent evening skies
Together they followed the cattle home.

by Kate Putnam Osgood, c. 1865

 

Kate Putnam Osgood was born into a prominent Maine family in 1841. Her poetry was widely published in popular magazines. She died in 1895.

The following is from Fryeburg Maine, A Historical Sketch by John Stuart Barrows, 1938

"Private" Joseph W. Fifer, ex-Governor of Illinois, who as a Union soldier in the Civil War knew the real pathos of "Driving Home the Cows," said of the poem:

There are poems of the heart and poems of the head, and that beautiful wartime poem "Driving Home the Cows" was a poem that went to the heart—and to their hearts our boys took it. Some of them memorized it. I have recited it at many a reunion and campfire. Soldiers from the farm loved it because it was a perfect picture of home—the lanes, the footpath, the clover field, the apple orchard, the herd coming from pasture, the wheeling bats, the frog pond, the farm gate, and the buttercups amidst the meadow grass. Why, there isn't anything but agriculture in it! It is pure pastoral...

The poem struck a chord of yearning in the heart of every farm-born solider in an army so largely recruited from the farm as ours was.

"Driving Home the Cows" first appeared in the March number of Harpers, 1865, but the list of authors didn't come out till the following June. Then it was too late, for meanwhile thousands upon thousands of soldiers at the front had read the poem in newspapers that had immediately reprinted it from Harpers—and from one another—and of course without the name. So the name didn't catch up with the poem.

Therefore a mystery grew up and you would hear people say—I said so myself—"Think of the modesty of that man who wrote this beautiful poem and won't give up his name in spite of all of the eagerness to know it!" Finally some of the guessers said that they had found out about a place in Iowa that fitted in with all the poet's story and description—the old man, the three sons, the natural features, and so on. But still they didn't find the
author's name.

I found out years afterward, the poet was not "that modest man" but a woman. She was Kate Putnam Osgood, born in the little town of Fryeburg down in the southeast corner of Maine, where her folks lived for half-a-century, and she was twenty-three years old when she wrote "Driving Home the Cows."

 

Thanks to poet and reciter Susan Parker for the above poem.


 

Our Friends in Uniform

We requested these photos ... and we welcome your photos (and those of family members)
  in uniform to add to these pages Email us.


Chris Isaacs, United States Marine Corps
1965, North Island Naval Air Station



Sam Jackson, United States Navy
Served aboard Heavy Cruiser, USS St. Paul,1948/1952



Hal Swift, United States Navy
USS Ajax AR6, San Diego, c. 1950
(see the entire photo above)



Smoke Wade, STG-2 , U.S. Navy, 1964 -68
aboard the U.S.S. Buchanan DDG-14 in the Tonkin Gulf
 



James F. Walker Nelson, U.S. Navy, World War II, South Pacific
Andy Nelson's father




Staff Sgt. Alton S. Kirkpatrick, United States Army
World War II
Linda Kirkpatrick's father


Alton Stuart and Elizabeth Helen (Thompson) Kirkpatrick
June 19, 1942, Philadelphia, Pa. 
Linda Kirkpatrick's parents


Lloyd Kirkpatrick and Preston Wright, United States Navy
World War II
Linda Kirkpatrick's uncle

Linda comments, "My uncle and his buddy were enlisting for the Navy and the recruiter was so taken by their identical dress that a photo was taken and used as a recruitment poster. It was taken in San Antonio." Her cousin Bunny, Lloyds' daughter-in-law, adds:

The photo appeared all across the US in numerous newspapers as a recruitment poster or sorts. It was especially used by the Houston Chronicle. The other cowboy was Preston Wright and the recruiter is Chief Yeoman J.B. Grasse. The headline was "Kimble County Cowboys Pose For Picture As They Sign Up For Navy." By the time the photo was used they were already in the Navy Training Station in San Diego, California. They were sworn in in Houston with 208 other men from the Hill Country and were sworn in on April 13, 1942 as the Admiral Nimitz Unit. The photo of the swearing in went out over the AP Wire. Pop served until November 9, 1945.

A funny thing is that when Pop and Preston signed up, Pop went to the Pacific and Preston went to the Atlantic. They had no contact the whole time, but when Pop docked in San Francisco when he came home, Preston had gotten there a day or two ahead of him and was waiting for him. Pop had to ride a cattle car on a train from San Francisco to Houston to get discharged at Camp Wallace which was the Navy Personnel Separation Center. They gave him a hundred dollars mustering out pay of which two dollars was for travel allowance. He was also paid forty dollars and fifty three cents as discharge pay.
 

     
Lloyd Kirkpatrick and Vernon Kirkpatrick,  United States Navy
World War II
Linda Kirkpatrick's uncles



Barney Gallagher
, United States Navy
World War II
Susan Parker's father


Henry Halsebo, United States Navy
World War II
Susan Parker's Great Uncle



Jack Terry, United States Navy
World War II
died in the South Pacific
Jean Mathisen Haugen's relation

Jean comments, "Jack Allen Terry was my Mom's first cousin. He went down with the U.S.S. Liscomb Bay in November, 1943—he died at age 21. Two other sailors from here [Lander, Wyoming], the Homec brothers from Hudson went down on the same ship."  Read more, with her poem, above



William Campbell, circa 1900, Union Army
Served with Company G of the Iowa 19th Infantry Regiment, was wounded and captured at the Battle of Stirling Plantation/Fordoche Bridge, Louisiana, and was held captive nearly 10 months in several locations, the longest at Camp Ford near Tyler, Texas.
Jeri Dobrowski's great-great-grandfather; see more in Picture the West
 

Inspired by CowboyPoetry.com's request for photos of family members in uniform, photographer/journalist Jeri Dobrowski has undertaken the task of documenting her ancestors' roles in the defense of the United States. Her "Salute to Family Veterans, Patriots, and Defense Industry Employees," a work-in-progress, is posted at her web site  here.


Jeri tells of her earliest research into the subject:

"While in the fourth or fifth grade, the teacher in my one-room country school assigned the lesson of writing a family history. It was my first adventure into the world of genealogy. During the course of interviewing my paternal grandfather, I learned that his grandfather had paid another man the princely sum of $500 to take his place in the American Civic War. I was devastated, and quite frankly, more than a little embarrassed. For several years, that was the only thing I knew about my family's military history. (How I missed the fact that that same grandfather had served in WWI, we'll attribute to amateurish interview skills.) Later, when my little brother wrote a similar report, he uncovered the fact that our father's cousin had served in WWII, was captured and held as a Prisoner of War, and survived Europe's horrific Black Death March. I was aghast at having missed that, but was also intrigued and relieved to know that somebody from the family had served in the military."

Since that rocky start, Jeri has identified individuals who not only served in the military but in a variety of defense industry support roles. Even before the United States declared indolence from England, family members served as colonial militiamen. And, as recently as March 2003, they were counted among the Marines who led the invasion of Iraq.

"Considering I once thought there weren't any veterans in my family, this has been an amazing journey! It's also been a refresher course in American history."

 


William M. Janssen, 1917, Norfolk, Virginia, U. S. Navy
World War I
Served aboard the USS Saranac

Jeri Dobrowski's paternal grandfather see more in Picture the West
 

 


Sam Janssen, circa 1919, U. S. Navy, World War I

Jeri Dobrowski's great uncle see more in Picture the West
 

 


1935 Herbert Wildman
Captain of CCC Company 954 (Project #F-42)
Camp 9-mile, Superior, Montana
First occupied: 5/2/1934

WWI veteran of the U.S. Army and with the American Red Cross, serving with the Armed Forces

Jeri Dobrowski's great uncle see more in Picture the West
 

 


Floyd Janssen, 1941, U.S. Air Force, Blackpool, England
World War II
Jeri Dobrowski's uncle; see more in Picture the West

 


Richard "Dick" Janssen, circa 1941, U. S. Army
World War II
Served from 1941-1945, becoming a turret gunner on a B-24 Liberator in the 846 Bomb Squadron of the Army Air Corp; Dick was shot down over Poland and survived in the woods for a week before being taken prisoner. He remained a prisoner for 10 months. His time as a POW ended following participation in the 89-day Black March and news of liberation. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters.
Jeri Dobrowski's father's cousin;  see more in Picture the West
 


Steve Conroy and his wife, Margie
at his retirement ceremony in August 1992, after 24 years of service in the U. S. Army
 


 

 
Frank Thornburgh, Army Reserve
44 years service

Frank comments, "I was in the Army Reserves over a 44 year part of my life until I was forced out due to age. During that time I served in a field artillery unit starting in high school, Nike anti-aircraft missile unit, individual ready reserve, two different special forces units, then taught at an army reserve school at Camp Parks for five years, traveled with the 6th army reserve rifle team, and finally served in a marksmanship unit."


 


Tech Sgt. Howard G. Staub
United States Air Force, twenty years' service
George AFB, 1970s

The caption for the above photo reads: JACK-IN-THE-BOX—Two German officers pay close attention to instruction given by TSgt. Howard Staub on a device which could someday save their lives. First Lieutenant Hansjürgen Ulrich and Captain Hans Loesmann are two of the many foreign allies undergoing training on the emergency rocket-propelled cockpit seat.
 



Petty Officer Wayne F. Nash

United States Navy, served on the USS McCall from 1942-1946, served off Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima. Father of Colorado rancher and poet Terry Nash.
 



Verdon A. Chandler
United States Army, World War II
Father of singer, songwriter and Western author Jon Chandler



Deanna Dickinson McCall's father and uncles:
Alphord Dickinson, Army Air Corps, WWII; CID, Korean War
Perry Preston Dickings Jr., Army Air Corps, WWII
W.G. Dickinson,  Army Air Corps, , WWII

 



From Steve and Terri Taylor of STAMPEDE!:


Albert Perry Taylor
US Navy
WWII
Steve Taylor's father
 


George S. Benford Jr.
US Army Air Corps
Fighting Glass Brigade
WWII
Terri Taylor's father



William S. Parks
Michigan Regulars
Civil War
Terri Taylor's great-great grandfather




George S. Benford Sr.
Us Army
WWI
Terri Taylor's grandfather


David J. Wood
US Army
WWI
Terri's grandfather

Terri adds, "Betsy Ross is my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother...
patriotism runs deep in our veins!
 



Michael Metagrano, United States Army
47th Infantry, World War I
wounded in 1918

 

   
Pat Metegrano, U. S. Navy, Seebees, WWII
Sol Metegrano, U. S. Army, WWII
Tony Metegrano, 546th Ambulance Corps, WWII
Frank Metegrano, U. S. Army, Air Corps (1927) and U.S. Army, WWII

 

 

 

 

 

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