I want to share a poem, actually it is two parts, from Air Force Master Sergeant Tony Johnston. He wrote this about Eddie:

I am shocked and saddened at the loss of your son. He was part of the inspiration for me to come back here for the fourth time. When I left in May of 2006 I was a wreck. As a 44 year old Air National Guardsman with a wife and three lovely children, I thought that I had done my fair share. My work at the Air Force Theatre Hospital here had been much more taxing on my mind and on my soul than I could have ever expected. But when I read what your son had written, and his view on how important this mission is, I was reminded that I was not the only one sacrificing, and that this cause is just and righteous.

So here is part one of Tony’s stirring and brilliant poem…

And Then One Day

And then one day you wake up…..and you are home.
And you’re afraid it might be another dream.
But there you are
Surrounded by young sons…….yours and others’
At the baseball diamond, Sitting on the bench, waiting on the call.
“Play Ball!” This is real; it’s too quiet to be a dream.

And all is right with the world…. Almost.
If the kids weren’t there, you’d cry
But you can’t, or you won’t, because you’re the dad,
Just home from the war
And the young Marine whose hand you held
As he drew his last ragged breath
Just Won’t let go,
He’s still dead.
And you can’t change that.
You can’t bring him back,
Even if you could trade your life for his.
But that doesn’t keep you from wondering
What he might have become?
And you Honor his Family, and you Honor his life,
By going on with yours.

But you still wonder what might have been?
One day you realize that you are not alone.
Your family wants to Honor him, and Honor you too,
But they can’t do that until you come home….
All the way home.

And one day you will be “all the way home”
But until then you trudge on….and you cry
Especially when no one else is around,
Because of the terror of the evening news
Because of the next sad song on the radio
Because of the nightmares
Or because of the fact that you just can’t let it go.

And you pray to God that you don’t have to explain,
The red eyes.
The tired look.
The distance….Again
Or answer another question like
“What was it like?”
Or “Why are you so sad?”
You are thankful that they care
But wish that it would all just go away

And one day you realize,
It’s not all about you.
And one day you realize
That no one could have been where you’ve been
Or seen what you’ve seen
And not be changed….Somehow
And you cry

And you make up your mind
That when you’ve learned the lesson
That you were sent here to learn
And climbed the hill that you were sent here to climb,
That it will all be okay someday,
When God’s time is right
Not yours.

And you wonder what you need to do
Who you need to help,
Or where you need to be
Before the faces of the dead and wounded
Finally quit dragging themselves through your dreams?
And you might finally realize that your family needs you as much
As anyone else.
And that they served too
And that they sacrificed too
And, like you, they did it for all the right reasons

So when you finally learn the lesson that God sent you to learn
And acknowledge the sacrifices of those that didn’t make it home
That then
Just maybe then
At night you can lie down and have
A peaceful night’s sleep

And then finally one day you wake up and you’re home….
And you pray to God that it’s not just another dream.

Look for part two of Tony’s poem on Tuesday.