OLD MEN AND THE WAR
The war was more than sixty years ago.
I don’t know why you dwell upon it so.
Not a single day ever goes by
But what some others of you die
Who, those days, just as you did, used to fly.
You dream about it; can’t you simply let
Those ancient mem’ries lie? Can’t you forget?
Forget? Come sit beside me for a spell.
I’ll see if there’s a way that I can tell
You why my thoughts go ever back to war
Though, as you say, it was so very far
In the past. Imagine, if you can
That you, like me, were once a young airman
Flying in a famed B-17
O’er Europe’s rivers, towns and fields so green.
So high we fly it seems we scarcely move,
We bomb by daylight; we are out to prove
For leaders who make plans to win the fight
That daylight bombing’s surer than at night.
The Brits, our allies, fly their raids at night
And leave their German targets burning bright;
But still the Yankee brass and planners say
Results of bombing are far best by day.
We near the target, and we see a puff
Of greasy black smoke. One is quite enough
To let us know the Germans lie in wait.
We wonder, flying, if ‘twill be our fate
To stop a vicious, deadly cannon shell.
Soon enough the sky becomes a hell
Of bright, red-centered puffs of smoke.
Frightened airmen grace of God invoke.
And we fly on as we must ever do
Where old flak bursts are mingled with the new
To make a dark gray cloud awaiting us,
Cloud ominous, cloud always perilous.
Most of us fly through the stuff and live
To fly again. We don’t forget to give
Thanks for our survival; but we know
That come tomorrow, back again we’ll go.
Again, again we brave the gray-black pall.
Again, again we see a comrade fall.
Again I wonder when will be my turn
To die or jump and see my airplane burn.
The song line says that airmen, live in fame
And further, end up going down in flame.
Forget, Love? Try, we might, in vain—
The fear, the horror’s graven in our brain.