It’s hard to write articles for Memorial Day, no matter how long you have been doing the job. How do you put into words the respect and honor you want to convey to readers? Well, years ago, I wrote this poem after witnessing a ramp ceremony.
For those that do not know what a ramp ceremony is, let me explain it. This is the ceremony overseas after someone has fallen and they are ready to go back stateside. Typically, as the servicemember is loaded into the plane, brothers and sisters align the ramp, saluting. It is one of the most memorable and difficult parts of deployment.
I was deployed when Extortion 17 was shot down. 30 U.S. troops and several others lost their lives that day. The ramp ceremony to honor them is something ingrained in my heart and mind forever.
While there will never be words that can perfectly convey the loss, here is my attempt. It is a poem I wrote not long after it happened, and I hope it paints a picture of the respect we all had as we watched them come home. I never could name it.
30 of them dressed in red, white and blue
Marched past us and we all knew
Not a word was said, not a sound made
Silent respects each member was paid
The wave of salutes as they passed by
Each person holding their arm high
The ultimate sacrifice had been given
Nothing could compare to that, then
30 men draped in the colors with pride
While most of watched, teary-eyed
We all knew what happened that day
A fate was charged no one wanted to pay
With Courage and Honor these men fought
To their home, each of them brought
As they passed by to go home to stay
In our heads, each of us bowed to say
“Protect them, please, they paid the biggest debt
Watch over their families as they wept
This could be me standing at the gate
Allowing St. Peter to determine my fate.
Yet proudly we will continue to fight
Not giving up ’til we exhaust our might.”
These men fought with honor and pride,
I’m proud to serve on their side.
May we never forget those who have gone before,
Honoring them to our heart’s core.
May this Memorial Day allow us to remember those who paid the ultimate price.
To watch the full ramp ceremony, click here.