Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

“Memorial Day”—poem by Phillip Dodds

My cousin (on my father's side...Aunt Eleanor's oldest child of seven children) Phillip Dodds served in the Air Force from November, 1958 to November, 1966 on three bases: Lackland Air Force Base in Texas; Keesler Air Force base in Mississippi; and Eglin Air Force base in Florida.

Phillip did not experience the combat experience or the wound, personally, but he was in the "missile research" portion of the Air Force. He was close to many who had. He recalls vividly the day that President Kennedy was assassinated (November 22, 1963). No one really knew what might be in store for the country. The men who lived off the base were told "Stay by the phone when you go home."

After his Air Force service, he taught Industrial Arts at Alton High School in Illinois close to my father's home. Phillips was stirred to write "Memorial Day" on May 26, 1976, by what he felt was people's lack of respect and appreciation of Memorial Day and Veteran's Day. Cousin Phillip's poem was printed in the "Redbird Word," the school paper for Alton High School, where he taught.

MEMORIAL DAY

by Phillip Dodds (February 6, 1940 - August 24, 1994)

The bullet pierces deep

Everything is red before my eyes.

So this is what it's like.

Everything is warm; I sleep.

A blurred world of angel's hair,

That strange odor hurts my nose.

Whose body wrapped in tape and gauze?

An aide dozes in the chair.

In comes a man wearing Captain's bars.

"How are you, Soldier?"

ZIP the dressing.

"Looks alright---thank your lucky stars!"

A flag there on the wall.

So many have been in my place---

Many not so lucky as I.

My lucky stars---fifty in all!

Soon I'll be back in the fight,

(Purple heart on my "class A's")

I really don't care to wear it,

We're just here to do what's right.

Clowning around hides the sorrow;

Lost buddies; wasted hours.

Why does time pass so slowly?

Bob Hope visits here tomorrow.

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