I wrote this poem after attending the funeral of my great uncle, retired Army Colonel George Scarborough. He was a veteran of the World War II Battle of the Bulge, so he received a funeral with full military honors and burial in the cemetery at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. I presented copies of this poem to his only daughter and granddaughters to honor his memory.
A Man of Peace
The Colonel rests now; his battle is done.
In spite of his courage, the cancer has won.
A man who devoted his life to defend
The country he loved, would fall in the end.
His body succumbed, but he never conceded,
And even in death he was never defeated.
His starched tunic gleams with the ribbons of war,
The symbols of service to country and corps.
The casket is closed, and the journey begins:
The final return to his life’s origins.
The limos advance in a stately procession.
The MPs salute him at each intersection.
The Post’s tiny chapel stands primed to receive
A soldier and father, and people who grieve.
Awaiting him there, the band plays a hymn.
Then, lifting the casket, the men bear him in.
The sun through the chapel’s stained glass creates rays
That dapple the casket and set it ablaze.
A uniformed officer rises to speak
Of the soul of a man, and what made him unique.
His words tell of humor and love to the end.
He chokes as he tells us that “George was my friend.”
The pallbearers carry the casket once more,
And side-step their way to pass through the door.
The casket is draped with the red, white, and blue,
And wheeled on a caisson past places he knew.
The horse pulls the caisson; the trees overarch.
The band plays the cadence: a funeral march.
The mourners walk slowly behind the detail
That winds its way now to the end of the trail.
The crowd gathers close by the grave freshly dug.
The Scarborough women embrace in a hug.
Two bugles blow Taps in a close harmony.
Two men fold the flag with reserved dignity.
A final few words of condolence are said.
Three volleys now echo to honor the dead.
The flag is presented with deep gratitude
For those sacrifices a lifetime accrued
By family members, as well as their men.
The daughter accepts, as her tears flow again.
The Colonel rests now, in this hallowed place,
Made sacred by men of exceptional grace.
John M. Campbell
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