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Poetry of a Marine Corps D.I.

Sent in by Dana Harp, Marine Wife

We just received your new catalogue and as usual my husband (Gary Harp) has been through it several times wishing for the money to buy all of his wishes and wants and muttering long poetic diatribes of profanity that only old Marine Corps drill instructors can do justice because there was “not one “God )&^%&, mother &%%%&^%, *^%* sucking, *&$% licking, piece of *&%^ *&#$% in the whole God (*^&(, %$(#@, book that says Combat Disabled or Useless )(^^&* Crippled Piece of *%^* > Marine.”

Drill Instructor Harp I took that to be a negative comment, but he wears the book out wishing and wanting, none the less.

He is a multiple tour Vietnam veteran and also was a drill instructor at MCRD Parris Island before finally being forced to accept a medical discharge and 100% service connected disability. As you would expect of a purple heart recipient and old drill instructor, he is very very soft hearted and I thought I would send you a couple of his poems. He recently finished a fictional book about a bunch of old retired Marines taking on a paramilitary group that is full of action, profanity, and some nudity and is now working on a fictional piece he calls “Under the Hat” about a young country boy that goes from a very niave country boy to the snarling creature “Under the Hat”. Here are the poems and a picture of Sergeant Gary L. Harp in 1970 or 71.

A Mother’s Heart
By: Gary L. Harp
Sergeant USMC 66-72
Vietnam 67-68 69-70
Disabled Veteran

I got a phone call the other day,
Lady said, Sir my mother passed away,
And I was wondering if you would come and speak,
I said, I’m sorry but I believe you have a wrong number,
I don’t believe I knew your mother,
And I’m sure I’m not the one you seek.

She said I know that you entertain folks
with funny stories, songs and jokes,
But in her voice I could hear a quiet despair,
No Sir, You didn’t know my mom,
Or my brother who died in Nam,
But we asked you, because you were over there

I know sir the excuses you could use,
And you have every right to refuse,
And maybe you wouldn’t even know where to start
See Jimmy was hit by a rocket, Tet of sixty eight,
So all we had to bury was an empty crate
So Mom’s most prized possession was his purple heart.

So I went to speak at her final service,
And discovered that I wasn’t even nervous
As I stepped up behind the speakers stand,
The lines I had prepared now seemed all wrong,
The rehearsed phrases were suddenly gone,
As my eyes found the medal clutched in her hand

For in this little piece of medal and purple clothe
Were all the memories of a son she’d lost,
Skinned knees, climbed trees and his screams of “MOM”
First grade, first date, the prom, were in each thread
From the first cry in delivery, to the telegram that read,
“We regret to inform you, your son was killed in Viet Nam”

They handed her a flag and his purple heart,
And even in death she still won’t part,
With these symbols of the Son that she had lost,
He’d served his country, his buddies, and the Corps
Things he thought were worth fighting for,
And She, like he, had paid the cost.

If there is a heaven, surely she got in,
To see her son, once again
Her baby, the Marine, the Vietnam Vet
In my mind there plays a story,
Of her with him, beneath old Glory,
As she pins that Purple heart on her Son’s chest.

Veteran’s Day
Gary Lyn HarpJanuary 8, 2004

November the eleventh, it’s Veterans Day,
Our Small town had its usual parade,
The President placed a wreath on the Unknown’s Grave
Then held a solemn pose, as photos were made

A Senator stood so elegant and tall
As he gave a short speech, in front of the Wall
In a voice that is normally used only in prayer,
He said, “We’ll never forget those who went over there”

Then they got in their limos and were whisked away,
Perhaps they had some other speeches to make,
In front of television cameras their phrasing rehearsed,
They’d speak of gratitude to all those who had served

In Oklahoma a crippled old veteran sat all alone,
Looking through the window of his small frame home,
Seeing things that he alone could see
Thinking of what ifs that never would be

His records stated he had served his country well,
In his trips to Vietnam’s green overgrown hell,
His fingers trembled across his cheek as he wiped a tear,
He’d heard the Senators same speech on the same day, last year

The Senator made more in two months than he made in year,
But their service to country, I suppose could not be compared,
The Senator gave his clout, his time and his brain,
The old man had given his blood, his memories, his legs and his pain,

In Oklahoma the old crippled veteran, sat all alone,
Looking through the window of his small frame home,
Seeing things that he alone could see, so far way,
For those many like him, every day is Veteran’s Day

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