We will remember them
A lot of people have asked to hear Dorothy Jamieson's poem so we've put it up here. It's not clear who wrote it because there are quite a few versions on line some of which go beyond honouring vets and try to score political points. Let's face it, we have to honour our veterans but their sacrifice doesn't diminish the work of journalists, union organizers or student radicals. 52 journalists have died this year trying to shed light on tyranny and war. Lech Walesa was a union chief and student radicals protested in the 1960s to end the slaughter of other young people in Viet Nam. But the veterans do deserve special honour and it's always a pleasure to run this poem each year.
Dorothy served in The Ladies in Waiting in France during World War Two and was decorated by Winston Churchill. She lives in Port Credit.
Now let me tell you the story of another poem. It was written twenty five years ago by WW2 veteran A. Lawrence Vaincourt. It's been reprinted all over the world, read on the radio and was once a column for Ann Landers. But somewhere along the way Vaincourt's name was dropped and most people have no idea that the poem was a column written by a Quebec based journalist. Vaincourt passed away in 2009 and just as these words have been spoken at tens of thousands of soldiers' funerals, they were read at his. His son Randy has been a friend of mine for years and wrote this week "Although we miss him terribly, what greater gift could he have left his family than the knowledge that his poem, the words of a Canadian veteran, live on and continue to inspire people around the world. Here is the poem:
JUST A COMMON SOLDIER
By A. Lawrence Vaincourt
He was getting old and paunchy and his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion, telling stories of the past.
Of a war that he had fought in and the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies; they were heroes, every one.
And tho’ sometimes, to his neighbors, his tales became a joke,
All his Legion buddies listened, for they knew whereof he spoke.
But we’ll hear his tales no longer for old Bill has passed away,
And the world’s a little poorer, for a soldier died today.
He will not be mourned by many, just his children and his wife,
For he lived an ordinary and quite uneventful life.
Held a job and raised a family, quietly going his own way,
And the world won’t note his passing, though a soldier died today.
When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing and proclaim that they were great.
Papers tell their whole life stories, from the time that they were young,
But the passing of a soldier goes unnoticed and unsung.
Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land,
A guy who breaks his promises and cons his fellow man?
Or the ordinary fellow who, in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his Country and offers up his life?
A politician’s stipend and the style in which he lives,
Are sometimes disproportionate to the service that he gives.
While the ordinary soldier, who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal and perhaps, a pension small.
It’s so easy to forget them for it was so long ago,
That the old Bills of our Country went to battle, but we know
It was not the politicians, with their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom that our Country now enjoys.
Should you find yourself in danger, with your enemies at hand,
Would you want a politician with his ever-shifting stand?
Or would you prefer a soldier, who has sworn to defend
His home, his kin and Country and would fight until the end?
He was just a common soldier and his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us we may need his like again.
For when countries are in conflict, then we find the soldier’s part
Is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start.
If we cannot do him honour while he’s here to hear the praise,
Then at least let’s give him homage at the ending of his days.
Perhaps just a simple headline in a paper that would say,
Our Country is in mourning, for a soldier died today.
©1987 A. Lawrence Vaincourt