Oh my Father (Veteran’s Day tribute from a son)

Wayne Engler, a World War II veteran of the First Armored Division, currenly lives in a nursing home in Overbrook.

Oh my Father,
what am I to say
to you who woke
with the thousands of dead
around you many mornings,
so much so,
that you tell me,
being around the dead
doesn?t bother you.
I fear death
as I know we all do,
even with faith,
as you must too,
because you tell me
the Ten Commandments include
?Thou shalt not kill,?
so you must be going to hell,
you say.

Oh my Father,
I know in my heart of hearts,
the discernment knowledge,
that Lord Jesus Christ
has a special place for you
for the nobility of soul
that sacrificed for all of us,
listed most reliable
in a high school year book,
known for reliability, gentle wisdom,
and your incredible honesty,
your entire life.
Your human soul more valued
in our living God?s eyes
than any nation,
yet you were uplifted
for being willing
to lay your life down.

Oh my Father,
what can I say
when I was a protected one
while you saw friends die
before the Viche guns,
saw the crushing defeat of Kasserine,
then went from Tunis
up the bloody spine of Sicily
for Patton?s glory,
went under the blasts from Bertha
for the nights on Anzio,
where you learned to say
?When it?s your time to go,
it's your time to go.?
You saw the horror on Monte Casino,
then went into Rome into Florence,
throughout the valley of the Po.
You saw Mussolini and his mistress hanging in the square,
more than 20 days dead,
awful pieces of meat.
From another man?s stiffened fingers,
you took your Luger.

Oh my Father,
you who saw
a thousand years of death
in only four of war,
need to know you are saved
by the grace of our ever-living God,
and not judged
by what you did in war
or as a good man afterward.
But what can I say without being
your weeping child again,
for you to comfort again,
for you were given dominion over me,
and it was me who grew up in peace
under the steadfast protection
of one who knew the worst tragedies
of our turning terrible
but beautiful world.

Oh Father, save my Father,
and give him the peace
that passes understanding.

Jerry Engler covers county government and agriculture for the Free Press. He is the author of two books, ?Just Folks: Earthy Tales of the Prairie Heartland,? and ?A Heartland Voice: Just Folks Two.? The books are available at book stores or online.

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