The Price of Freedom

by Rick Brentlinger
(Florida, USA)

Normandy American Cemetery

Normandy American Cemetery

Honoring World War II vets
and the D-Day landing
at Normandy, June 6, 1944

The Price of Freedom

They called for boys to fight a war,
all rosy cheeked and fair;
And sent them to a foreign land
to shed their life’s blood there.

With dauntless pride and eager step
and manly purpose true;
They boarded long gray troop ships
as faithful soldiers do.

The gray ships sailed at sunset
across the wave-tossed sea;
The men aboard not knowing
their final destiny.

As white-haired men in power,
Still planned and changed their plan;
The troop ships steamed past midnight
to join the battle’s van.

And mothers wept the night away,
And sweethearts sobbed in fear;
And fathers for the sons they loved
choked back the silent tear.

The men wrote letters homeward
or sat in pensive thought;
Their leaders madly gambled
As only madmen ought.

They passed the plans of battle
to generals dressed for war;
Then left to drink their cocktails
far from the blood and gore.

The naval force assembled,
The air armada too;
The mightiest army ever formed
Of young men brave and true.

And mothers wept the night away
And sweethearts sobbed in fear;
And fathers for the sons they loved
choked back a silent tear.

D-Day broke cold and cloudy;
Their orders came to go;
And troops rained down from heaven
Like newly fallen snow.

And brave men stormed the beaches,
Hard-charging wave by wave;
And true friends for a comrade
the greatest sacrifice gave.

As German guns belched screaming shells,
No man from battle fled;
And soon the pristine beaches
were bathed in crimson red.

The whole world seemed to tremble,
As if in dire pain;
Her sons at cost of life and limb
sought costly ground to gain.

Their torn and wounded comrades,
the lucky ones, ‘twas said;
Would now be sailing homeward
Accompanied by the dead.

And sad and grieving mothers
and sweethearts dressed in black;
Would follow many a casket
and choke their teardrops back.

Yet still the battle fiercely fought
stretched on and on and on;
Till sweethearts, fathers, mothers
Thought hope was almost gone.

Yet now on far-flung battlefields
the tide began to turn;
While still the madman in Berlin
All talk of peace did spurn.

He urged his armies to endure,
Their enemies to press;
His propaganda called their loss
a battlefield success.

The Allies fought toward Germany
Opposed in every town;
And finally stood astride the Rhine
As German power ran down.

The bombers came at night in waves
And then in daylight too;
And rained a deadly hail of death
Each mission that they flew.

Now came the drive to reach Berlin
And end the war for good;
The Allied Armies would not rest
till in Berlin they stood.

Then one day it was over,
A warm day in the spring;
And aching families hoped for news
that every mail might bring.

The gray ships now sailed homeward,
Their decks rang out with joy;
But nowhere midst the voices raised
was heard the teen-aged boy.

The sons who off to war had gone
all rosy cheeked and fair;
Would never be the same again
for all that happened there.

Their innocence was shattered
by the blood and death of war;
And the fair-haired boys of long ago
would now be seen no more.

As tired gray ships sailed into port,
great throngs of families waved;
Now answered all the deck across
By men who’d danger braved.

They rushed into each other’s arms
And wept and cried for joy;
Glad mothers and glad fathers
to see their little boy.

The son who as a child had left
so brave to do and dare;
Was safely home in mother’s arms
in answer to her prayer.

As brave men kissed their sweethearts
And hugged their mothers dear;
Now many a thankful father
shed many a thankful tear.

But some who went to meet the ships,
Their grief till later saved;
Their cherished husband, father, son
slept in a lonely grave.

And sad and heartsick mothers,
And fathers numb with grief;
Found somehow in their scalding tears
acceptance and relief.

-by Rick Brentlinger,

honoring the memory
of the men and women
who fought and won World War II
and secured our freedom.

White crosses at Normandy American Cemetery
mark the graves of 9,387 brave men who
gave their lives during the D-Day invasion
of June 6, 1944 and ensuing operations.

Normandy American Cemetery graces a bluff overlooking Omaha Beach and the English Channel, east of St. Laurent-sur-Mer and northwest of Bayeux
in Colleville-sur-Mer, 170 miles west of Paris.

Cemetery photo by
U.S. Army Spc. Adrienne Killingsworth,
courtesy of Wikimedia Commons,
is in the public domain.

Comments for The Price of Freedom

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Dec 05, 2010
Then there's the age-old unseen battle....
by: Sparrow

"The Price of Freedom" is absolutely poignant and powerful, Pastor Rick..... your poem recounted the external battles, then there's another, internal battle of the gay soldier ? ready and willing to lay down his/her life for their country ? having to hide who they really are to their own countrymen who sent them into those battles....

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