Poetic Honors for our Nation’s Fallen

This morning you’ll find our latest contribution to Time Magazine here.  On December 16th, we’ll have the honor of attending one of the many “Wreaths Across America” ceremonies, at Barrancas National Cemetery. Thinking about our fallen heroes and their children left behind, reminded me of a poem my mother (Joan Rissmeyer) wrote when she was just fourteen years of age.  Her poetic tribute shows a depth of understanding and heart-felt gratitude that I’ve heard from today’s youth — when their soldier is gone — having sacrificed all to preserve freedom. I chatted with my 79 year-old mom early this morning, sharing the post on Time.com with her. I mentioned her poem, “My Cousin Junior.” She then recited it, verbatim, line by line. These are the moments that make my heart swell with gratitude.

My Cousin Junior – by Joan Rissmeyer

Some people called him “Bill”

Which was his real name

Others called him “Junior”

He was wonderful just the same

All through his days in school

He always had many a friend

Then on that terrible mission

His life came to an end

He had a wonderful character

And was tall with dark brown hair

And blue eyes that always sparkled

The Air Force was his career

He built all kinds of model planes

In the attic day after day

From small ones to gigantic

He was an artist of the airways

The last day that I saw him

Was very sad of course

Because he had to leave for England

With the United States Air Force

He led them over Germany

The last day he was to roam

And after it was over

Again he’d be coming home

But this never happened

Because on that terrible day

He was shot down, never to return

To the good old USA


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