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Vietnam Marine’s Poem

“Through His Eyes I’ve Seen”
Author: Victor A. Giagrante

Dedicated to the past and present Men and Women
of the United States Marine Corps.

Many years ago, in 1969
I was a load of 19, doing mighty fine.

Out of school and working, for United States Steel
Pockets full of money, going for every meal.

Driving my 67 Chevy, with a worked 396
Getting pretty popular with all the local chicks.

I was cool and lucky. I thought I had it all
Then I watched a Marine walk past, it made my skin crawl.

He looked to be 40, gray around the side
His eyes were filled with something, also in his stride.

I started a conversation. Said he was looking mighty fine.
He then told me his age, he had just turned 29.

“12 months in ‘Nam,” he said, with an icy stare
“Death, destruction and sorrow, nothing can compare.”

He turned and walked away, without even saying good-bye
It made me really angry, but that Marine began to cry.

“Hey Marine!” I yelled, “I thought you guys were tough and taught how to kill.”
“I guess you must be the only one, who just can’t fit the bill.”

With that he turned and said, almost in a scream
“You can’t judge a man, until through his eyes you’ve seen.”

I laughed a nervous laugh and by him I walked around
He just stared and watched me walk away, never made a sound.

As I lay in bed that night, wondering what it was like
Death, destruction and sorrow, the unknowing air strike.

I thought of that Marine, I really don’t know why
I couldn’t get him out of my mind, then I started to cry.

The next day when I woke up, I talked to my Dad
I told him of the Marine and how he was feeling so sad.

He said, “My son, I’ve been there, when I was young like you”
“It wasn’t Vietnam, it was called World War II.”

I was on Iwo Jima for the raising of the flag
As I was placing my buddy in a body bag.

“He was right, my son. Those things must be seen.”
“I never want to do it again, but I’m proud to be a Marine.”

“It’s something I can’t explain, no one ever will”
“But that Marine was right, and yes, he fit the bill.”

When I left the house that day, I was full of frustration
The next thing I knew, I was at the recruiting station.

I ended up in Vietnam. At the time I was only 19.
I thought of what my Dad had said, and that sad and doleful Marine.

Four years later, as I was walking down the street
This friend of mine said, “Here’s someone I’d like you to meet.”

My friend said this guy was once a Marine. So I had to set him straight.
“Once a Marine, Always a Marine,” I didn’t hesitate.

But the person he wanted me to meet, never made a sound
He just kept looking at me, eyeing me up and down.

He then said, “It’s been a long time my friend. There are things I know you’ve seen.”
“Tell me, do you feel different now that you’re a Marine?”

No words had to be spoken. I had nothing else to say.
Now I remembered him from that long ago day.

It’s been thirty years, since I went away
But memories of Vietnam, will always be here to stay.

So if you’re on the street and see a Marine go walking by
Don’t be afraid to look at them directly in the eye.

And say, “Thank you my friend for all that you have done.”
“For if it weren’t for people like you, we’d still be on the run.”

From Iwo Jima, the Gulf and even in Desert Storm
Make all the Marines that come home, feel welcome and warm.

For I’m sure there’s a friend or two, they had to leave behind
But the memories will always be there, in the back of their mind.

If you know of someone who’s been “THERE”, be kind and not mean
Because you can’t judge a man until, through his eyes you’ve seen

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