The fallen have no voice, our freedom is their sign,
Oh, brave heroes, selfless deeds claimed your prime,
Your words were left unspoken, on hellish frontiers,
But we still hear you, even after all these years…
History has veiled your suffering, sacrifice never to forget,
So many wars, too many battles; faced by general and cadet,
Greedy death, your serpent like tongue, too fast ran,
Devouring life after life; from cruel carnage of man.
The Somme’s sodden, bloody fields saw many a charge,
Cut down by a hail of bullets, bombs small and large,
Pounding hooves, feet and tanks, cover pestilent ground,
Ear splitting screams, explosions, to stealthy silence sound.
When the smoke has cleared, gritty eyes cannot bear indignity,
Of mangled and missing bodies; but in courage lies nobility,
A debt we can never repay, you faced evil, settled the score,
Faces we cannot see, but your deeds are the stuff of lore,
Our hearts fill with gratitude, for your unwaivering duty,
Concrete shells of empty buildings, stripped of beauty,
Serve as reminders of lost limbs and shattered homes,
Your graves tended, sought are your lost, scattered bones.
The dice has been shaken; the dice has been rolled,
Your number is up; time to cross the eternal threshold,
You went into danger, knowing you may never return,
A mission impossible, no easy final sojourn…
Last post played, last drink downed, from life’s bitter-sweet cup,
If lucky, you could savour the taste, before going up,
Was it sweet? Was it sour? Did you know we wear your flower?
Red petals bloom in a sea of crimson; your poppies empower.
You drew a line in the sand, to defend our cherished homeland,
But the tragic loss of life, is hard to fully understand,
Our freedom is won, and the many thank the few,
Conflict resolved, because of what you went through.
Stories of the fallen continue to be told; as is just,
Their tales must not pass unknown, into shadows and dust,
The fallen show us the true meaning of extraordinary bravery,
So that we may never again, be shackled by tyranny and slavery.
You answered the call; sentinels of the skies, preserving lands,
Plummeting the depths of oceans, with protective hands,
Platoons, divisions, armies of ordinary men and women,
You saw and did, more of your share, of spying and killing.
Infiltrating enemy lines, up against cold, hunger and snipers,
Risking it all, to intercept and thwart, cleverly coded ciphers,
Through ninety percent of human history a war has waged…
Worthy causes hailed by leaders, for followers to engage.
The fallen will cry no more: anguish and pain disappear,
The fallen paid the highest price for valour through fear,
The fallen fought for peace: to preserve a free society,
Honour and respect the fallen, by living with humanity.
By Virginia Burges