It was 1942, and you were 16 years old
when your mother signed the papers
that allowed you to go to war.
A skinny country boy from Alabama
who knew what it felt like
to be hungry
when the mills closed down,
your courage saw beyond
the harvest and the strip mines
to a cause greater than yourself,
a belief that freedom mattered
and that human rights were
worth your sacrifice of
comfort, safety, and innocence.
I can see you now
as you were then --
your clear eyes,
your brilliant smile,
your Marine Corps fatigues,
your confident stance --
all gifts of recovered time
from a day photographed
more than 50 years ago.
A hero-child of love
and compassion, you remain
my truest image of liberty.
Semper Fi, Dad.

Copyright 1998 Karen Thompson

Note from Karen: "Liberty was written in honor of my father, Emmett M. Thompson, Jr. (1926-1988), who served in the United States Marine Corps in World War II and was a disabled veteran. Liberty was published by the Amateur Poetry Journal as part of Judy Gripton's 1998 Memorial Day Tribute to America's veterans."

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