Submitted by: John F McMullen

Category: Poetry

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I was too young
for Korea
although I had a friend
whose older brother died there.

I was too old
for Vietnam
although I had friends
whose younger brothers died there.

I was working as a civilian
For the Department of the Army
and there was pressure to get my
“military obligation” out of the way.

So, I spent from November 1962
through May 1963 in Fort Dix, NJ
and Fort Sill, Oklahoma
as a six months wonder.

I hated it!
It was boring, repetitious and
an awful lot of “chickenshit”.
I wanted to get on with my life!

It was only later that
I got to realize
how much I learned
in just those few months.

The Irish Catholic from NYC
worked with the Protestant
from Alabama who thought
that the Pope was a heretic.

The College English Major
found common ground
with high school dropouts
who thought reading was
a big waste of time.

The local basketball
gym rat and fanatic
found the same teamwork
as part of an artillery crew.

The kid from the lily-white
neighborhood of Inwood
saw his black platoon buddies
suffer bigotry and exclusion
in Lawton, Oklahoma.

The tedium of spit-shining
shoes and cleaning a rifle
with a toothbrush made
me “do things right”.

It was only much later that I found
the answer to my constant question
“what is this ‘good training’ for?”
The answer was “for life”!

About the author:

John F. McMullen, “johnmac the bard”, is the Poet Laureate of the Town of Yorktown, NY, a graduate of Iona College (BA – English Literature) and the holder of two Masters degrees from Marist College (MSCS – Information Systems & MPA – Criminal Justice), a member of the American Academy of Poets, Poets & Writers, the Hudson Valley Writers Center, the Mahopac & Yorktown Poetry Workshops and the Mahopac Writers Group, the author of over 2,500 columns and articles and eight books, six of which are collections of poetry, and is the host of a weekly Internet Radio Show (over 280 shows to date). Links to the recordings of all radio shows as well as information on Poet Laureate activities is available at