Friend, I have faced many a difficult battle,
Dangerous missions requiring real backbone.
As a soldier, I have encountered hard times,
But this trip was the toughest one I had known.

My feet became heavy, but still I advanced . . .
Moving down the long hallway to where he lay;
This man was my best friend and fellow soldier,
But I had received news he would die today.

His room was now only a few feet from me;
I became frozen, standing there at his door.
I had come to say good-bye to my comrade,
For after today, I would see him no more.

He was sitting up, as if waiting for me;
I noticed an old familiar smile on his face.
He said, “Soldier, I’m sure glad you came today,
For soon, ole buddy, I’ll be leaving this place.

I guess you know I don’t like these hospitals:
There’s just too much sufferin’ n’ pain.
’Sides, these places stir up too many memories,
Some I’ve been reliving again and again.

But, Soldier, I’ve got a brand new assignment;
I’m goin’ t’ a land where there ain’t no wars,
A place where the winds of peace are a’blowin’ . . .
It’s a long mission, away up b’yond the stars.

Yes, sir, I’m ready, be gone in a short while,
But there’s a thing or two I’d like you to know.
You, partner, are this old soldier’s best friend.
Sure gon’na miss our talks, and I’ve loved you so.”

As he spoke, a glow came upon his old face,
Like none that I had ever seen there before.
He said, “Listen up, Soldier, I’m being called;
There’s a messenger a’standin’ at my door!”

I took his hand as he squeezed mine so tightly,
I swear, I have never seen him so at ease.
Then, his head turning, I saw him smile widely.
“The Commander’s callin’ . . . I feel heaven’s breeze!”

Then just like that, that brave old soldier was gone;
I could feel his firm grip on my hand release.
I stood at full attention to salute him,
                     And said, 
“So long, Dad . . . now go on . . . rest in peace.”

© Loyd C. Taylor

Author’s notes:
One evening, after visiting a friend in the veterans’ hospital, I began thinking about some of the visits that may have taken place there. Some may have been lighthearted visits, some sad, and some would be the last time they would see the loved one alive this side of heaven. I wrote the following poem after that visit and dedicate it to all of our soldiers, past and present, and all who will serve in the future. God bless you, I thank you for serving.  Sincerely, Loyd Taylor