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This song is a tribute to my older brother

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  • This song is a tribute to my older brother

    Jack Elroy Gardner

    from Vacaville, California who was KIA in 1966 in Vietnam

    Panel 07E - - Line 89



    THE GREAT GOODNIGHT

    I was only four

    I don’t remember you

    I have seen your pictures my whole life



    Brother… in this great goodnight.

    A black frame still protects those two

    letters from the President

    They start out: On this day in May 1966

    for wounds received in action

    Still hanging here after all of this time

    right next to your purple heart

    in this great goodnight.



    I do have this one hazy memory

    I think you had me up on your shoulders

    playing on top of the world for a moment

    that couldn’t last (it never does)

    I love this black and white of you

    playing the harmonica like a giant at our old house

    sitting on that green sofa

    You were only 19 but to this kid

    you were probably more like 43.



    I read an old clipping from the paper

    It said they prayed for you

    at the church

    Now I know everyone

    in the photograph

    Long before the memorial rose

    looking so much different than today

    I haven’t touched that stone of names

    but I have a tracing of yours



    On this day in May 1966

    for wounds received in action

    Still hanging here after all of this time

    right next to your purple heart

    in this great goodnight



    But for some unknown reason

    we never discussed it much growing up

    I pieced together the

    whole story out of

    that old trunk left in the attic



    You’d been gone only 6 weeks

    when the Army brass came

    to the door knocking

    Breaking the news -breaking our hearts

    They broke the news to mom

    she took it worse than anyone

    She really believed- ‘he didn’t have to go

    the draft missed him by a mile’

    You could have walked away

    but instead you had your final day in Vietnam



    When they broke the news to mom

    all I can say… she took it worse than anyone

    She really believed he would make it back home

    ‘He didn’t have to go to Vietnam’



    Here is what thay said;

    The claymore went off and you went down

    and you would have been ok

    you would have been all right

    but they could not get to you

    The VC were everywhere

    So the orders came…



    We can’t pull Jack out

    For him it’s getting late

    But a hundred men

    won’t see tomorrow

    if we don’t quietly wait



    ‘We can’t pull Jack out’…



    You knew exactly

    what was happening

    -why nobody came

    You were a good soldier,

    keeping still

    holding out as long as you did



    On this day in May 1966…



    Within an hour you relaxed

    somehow everything seemed ok

    Cause in your soul you knew

    your time in Nam had passed away



    … my brother.



    With your shirt wet with blood

    and your forehead cool

    You thanked the Lord

    for this Great Goodnight

    In this moment of acceptance

    this Great Goodnight

    brought you a peace

    you’d never known

    In this Great Goodnight

    the war raging on

    in this Great Goodnight

    … my brother…



    But brother let me tell you

    it’s what I know

    so maybe one day

    we can fill in the blanks



    Until we meet again - brother

    I’ll choose this memory

    We’ll keep remembering

    what you did

    in that great goodnight



    You couldn’t hear the medic

    yelling in your ear

    While you dreamed of this

    kid back at home

    saying pick me up

    so we can play

    Brother let me tell you -

    I remember

    And I think you made it

    in that Great Goodnight

    In fact, it’s the only thing

    I remember

    from that Great Goodnight



    Well brother let me tell you…

    it’s what I know.

    Maybe one day we will

    stand together

    Until we meet again

    I’ll choose this memory

    and thank you guys

    for what you did

    and what you tried to do

    in this Great Goodnight



    On this day in May

    for wounds received in action

    … and now I see, my brother



    This is for you.



    And someday you will see that this song

    was for you, my brother.



    Now that dad has joined you -

    I’m sure that he would agree

    got a son on my shoulder

    and lots of work to do, brother.

    …… like was done with me.





    ©Copyright January 01, 2002 by Trent Gardner
    Semper Fidelis

    George T. Curtis
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