Yesterday, I was privileged to attend a ceremony that every American ought to see at least once in his or her lifetime: a battalion of our troops coming home.
R.J. Brown, husband of Erin (Hyde’s Executive Director of Development), was among the 300 members of The Maine Army National Guard’s 133rd Engineer Battalion who returned to US soil yesterday after a year-long deployment in Afghanistan. I was among a small group of family, friends, and co-workers who accompanied Erin for the special occasion.
No sooner had I entered the Augusta Armory before I was overcome with multi-faceted emotion, the dominant themes being family, country, and friendship. Amid the signs, cheers, and hugs, it was hard not to think of Charles Province’s classic 1970 poem, It Is the Soldier:
It is the Soldier, not the minister Who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the Soldier, not the reporter Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the Soldier, not the poet Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer Who has given us freedom to protest.
It is the Soldier, not the lawyer Who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the Soldier, not the politician Who has given us the right to vote.
It is the Soldier who salutes the flag, Who serves beneath the flag, And whose coffin is draped by the flag, Who allows the protester to burn the flag.
Thanks, all members of the 133rd. Welcome home.
Onward, Malcolm Gauld