I will buy the book tomorrow on my usual pilgrimage to my favorite Starbucks wrapped in a Barnes & Noble. His story brought to mind a funeral of a SEAL back in 2008. Mike Monsoor, was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously for in May of 2006 throwing himself on top of a grenade in a firefight in Ar Ramadi, Iraq to save his fellow SEALs. As the coffin was removed from the hearse, 45 Seals lined up along the path 2 by 2 from the hearse to the gravesite. As the wooden coffin passed, it stopped by each Seal who removed his Trident and slammed it into the casket embedding it, each slam heard across the cemetery, louder than any three gun farewell salute and certainly more lasting and poignant. Sadly, the funeral of a man who chose to save his buddies rather than himself was hardly mentioned by the media save Fox and a few others.
When I learned of the funeral, the images of stars as tridents on a flag came to mind and I wrote this poem in 2008 after learning of the award of the Congressional Medal of Honor and the details of his funeral. Thank God for the SEALs and shame upon those in Congress who did not have the desire or integrity to find the paltry amount of funds cut from Veterans' pensions, including the disabled.
Stars On a Flag and a Casket
The last time Old Glory had stars numbering but 45 was in 1896
When Utah joined the union adding a Mormon state to this great diversity mix,
We may only have achieved a flag with stars of but 48,
Save for the citizen warriors who dropped all and went into harm's fate.
Civilization in 1917 was at a new dark ages abyss,
The doughboys crossed the ocean to fix what was clearly remiss,
The flags brought forward in the mud and shelling, stars of but 48,
For the last two stars in the balance would have to wait,
Lessons learned by those who are not lifelong Spartans to the core,
Soon forgotten and in just 23 short years we had to do it again once more.
The Flags of Our Fathers on Iwo Jima had stars still of 48,
Clash of evil and the Great Crusade two more in the balance would have to wait.
The flags in the dark days of Pusan or the glory of Inchon, also furled but 48,
The world trembled as another band of brothers went off to meet their fate,
Any one can sew a star onto a flag if you have some needle and thread,
But to keep them on, you must go to Arlington or Normandy to view the threads of crosses and stars of the dead,
When the winds of war and chaos try to rip the stars from the flag apart,
Remember those threads who each time gave it all until the last beat of their hearts.
Sadly, another brave warrior Michael Monsoor, a Navy SEAL, gave his life for others to save,
So fitting his casket took with it 45 tridents so much like 45 stars to his far too early grave.
The flag has 50 stars because of the thousands of crosses, stars and now crescents on well kept lawns,
A stark reminder that without the courage and sacrifice of soldiers like Monsoor, this nation may not see another dawn.
© July 13, 2008 Michael P. Ridley aka the Alaskanpoet