With Pen in Hand
When they least expect it, many Korean War veterans find that memories of their experiences in Korea come rushing back to haunt them. Sometimes, our nation's veterans take pen in hand and try to express in writing the unwelcome thoughts that return. Yes, it is decades since their tour of duty ended, but their memories of cold, bloody Korea remain branded in their minds and hearts forever.
Have you taken pen in hand to express your thoughts on the Korean War, too? If you would like to share them with our web visitors, send your poems -- or even just a few jotted lines -- to Sharon Corum. We'll post them on this page.
Written by Harold W. Dunham, Maroa, IL to the Korean War Museum, February 1, 1999:
These past months have stirred a lot of memories of Korea. This past weekend as I sat reflecting on the memories that came to my mind as I had received a letter from one of the guys that I had in my platoon in Korea. I am enclosing a copy of some of my thoughts that I wrote of some of my memories, thoughts and feelings. I want to share the poem and you may use it if you think it could be of interest to others. If not that's all right, too. Again, I want to tell you how much I appreciate you for your efforts and huge contribution of time and self in helping us to finally see that our efforts are not ignored and forgotten. Thank you!
We answered the call for all America
We crawled up those hills and rocks in Korea
The bitter cold, snowy winters
The Chinese hordes - the blaring bugles
The whistling of big stuff coming in
The whine of the motors, the litter jeeps
And some wanted to call this a "Police Action"
It has been called the "Forgotten War!"
- Dedicated especially to all those who gave their lives and also to all those who live with those memories and nightmares!
FREEDOM IS NOT FREE
An aging black man stands in a white tent
I remember then the night
That old man and I --
Hand-dug trenches and sand-bagged
B-rations and C-rations and K-rations
The rumble of our artillery
The long black nights and
M-1 rifle upside down,
Helmet placed atop the thing
Between his teeth the other tag
The rain, this death of late September,
With entrenching tool we dug his grave,
Graves registration I hope will show
On his back the lad was placed,
This Buddy that died in the rain,
Throwing earth in seemed obscene,
All his hopes and dreams or strife,
Mom and Dad will shed some tears
True love Jenny he'll not wed,
Children who they might have had,
His Jenny's pain is part of war,
He sailed here from 'cross the sea
I dedicate these rhymes to Dave,
These names by necessity must be
Just a few names that I remember,
THOSE LEFT BEHIND
Those left behind whose tears will fall
They'll accept the flag with tear stained hands
The degree of pain will vary
Those left behind now pay the price
An exception is the combat Warrior
To the forgotten Mothers of our fallen Brothers
A SMALL WHITE CROSS
Gods gift to me that morning,
As I breast fed my little fella
I helped him with his first steps
I'd walk him to the school bus.
He grew up strong and healthy,
I prayed for him, oh how I prayed,
M-1 rifle upside down
My body's here sweet Mother dear
I'm here with you and Jenny too,
God took my little fella
Now I kneel beside a small Cross,
Hug him the way I hugged him
Now I see the other Crosses,
I see the Crosses now so clear,
The cross I kneel by's not alone,
Does my homeland see these Mothers
Dear God I loved my little fella -----------------
To the forgotten Daughter's of our fallen Brothers
1776 ------------- Thru time
A SMALL WHITE CROSS
by jimmie joe
Little Daughter, Daddy's Daughter
A wondrous knight in shining armor,
Little Daughter held Dad's finger
Little Daughter missed her Daddy
Daddy's death to her means nothing,
Little Daughter's just know missing
Will you believe your God's in Heaven?
She'll miss her Daddy less thru time
Will you believe your God's in heaven?
As she grows into her teen years
She ask questions of her Daddy's Daddy,
Now she's a Woman fully grown
By his Cross this Daughter's kneeling
Once again she is a small girl,
For nineteen years the tears don't flow,
As the memories flood thru her
Daughter, believe your God's in heaven
Now a peacefulness does soothe her,
her Daddy's always been quite near.
Daddy, tomorrow is my wedding day,
I know there is a God in heaven.
I love you Daddy ------- Amen
God bless you Daddy's Daughter,
To the forgotten Fathers of our fallen Brothers
A SMALL WHITE CROSS
In Flanders field the poppies grow
Those rhymes I learned in grade school
They drafted me in world war two,
Those Crosses placed around the world
We were hero's back on V- J day,
Now I kneel here beside a Cross,
'Twas along the Naktong River
I understand the pain they hold,
I slowly raise my eyes to heaven,
They stretch beyond this graveyard,
Please God, I understand.
I've preface the poem with the words to TAPS I first heard from a fellow light machine gunner from West Virginia, it was along the Naktong River in 1950. I remembered most of the words and found them in their entirety on the net, therefore I accept them as original as we will get?
To the Cross without a name
The words from a "1862" Civil War Battlefield
Day is done.
Gone the sun.
From the lake,
from the hill,
from the sky.
All is well.
God is nigh.
Thanks and praise,
for our days,
'neath the sun.
'Neath the stars,
as we go, this we know.
God is nigh.
SMALL WHITE CROSS
There are no Crosses row on row,
for many Warriors brave.
No, Flanders fields, no poppies grow,
on unknown far off graves.
P.O.W.s and M.I.A.s,
buried where none can say,
in most cases they won't be found.
A price their loved ones pay.
The internment of our Warriors
near the death camps of our foe,
will interest very few of us.
Most just don't care to know.
The loved ones have no place to kneel
beside a small white Cross.
No special ground for solitude
in weeping for their loss.
There is no special place for flowers,
no Cross to bear a name.
We have the tomb of unknown soldier
but that cannot be the same.
These Warriors names are not unknown,
we know their names quite well.
Why are there no white Crosses
for these men who went thru hell?
No name inscribed in Cross of stone
to show their sacrifice thru time?
Erase them from their homelands view.
Erase them from our mind.
Our national cemeteries 'cross this land
have their rows of Crosses white.
Our Warriors who just disappear?
We leave in darkness of their night.
I've not had a son missing in War,
if so I'd want his Small white Cross.
I'd want my place to kneel and pray.
"alone to weep my loss."
I now speak of our brothers "Wall,"
with it's names in marble black,
with the names of Warrior dead inscribed
plus those who didn't make it back.
As I observe this wall of honour
and the caring with their pain,
I can feel the Warriors spirits
as they drift across my very soul,
pang my heart, mist thru my brain
The black marble wall is powerful,
my emotions swell toward tears.
The names inscribed in marble black
are much too young in years.
What spirits do and where they roam
this old Vet cannot say.
'Near sixty-thousand names on marble wall?
Somehow I feel an urgent need.
An urgent need to nearly weep and
an urge to kneel and pray.
The tears along the wall infect me,
puts painful turmoil in my head.
It was not my war, was not my fight,
still I feel these comrades dead.
I feel the time they didn't have,
like my dead comrades of old.
Why do I feel those Warriors spirits
who make old memories unfold?
Why do I feel this sense of comradeship
with Warriors not known by me?
It's all the names, dead young Boys names,
they lived a while --------- and then they died.
Tell them our "Freedom's free."
A formation of standing Warriors statues
will never be the same,
they are not real, they cannot be.
What's real is Warriors name.
A name tells us the Warrior lived,
tells us of time that wouldn't be.
Tells us of rights we must protect,
proves our "Freedoms are not free."
Our dead were not tin soldiers,
our dreams were all the same.
Do not give us statues.
Thank you for our "missings" names.
On the Island of Oahu
where summer always dwells.
Is a place they call the "punchbowl"
for those Boys who went thru hell.
Our missing from the Korean War
who's remains could not be found,
have their names inscribed on tablets
in this warm and peaceful ground.
The ground is never frozen
and the grass is always green.
Our missing Buddies names are there
in that peaceful bowl serene.
There is no stench of summers death,
no grotesque shapes of frozen dead.
But a sad something will remind us,
deep back inside, hid from all view,
old Visions in our heads.
I honour you my Warrior Brothers,
I'll join you in a while.
Will you welcome me as comrade brave
or will there be no smile?
Have I upheld your sacrifice and death
as I lived time you never had?
Is our Homeland as Free as when you left?
By "Gods own truth" your answer is -----------?
Your answer friend ---------- is mine.
- by Thomas Lynn, Lawrenceville, GA
I walked among my comrades brave,
I know each rock, each clump of trees
By Korean Veteran,
There is a time in some men's lives
These gallant men who fight with pride
They place their lives in danger's way
Some wounds severe with loss of limb
To suffer wounds with death at hand
They do their duty and beyond
They shed their blood, some live, some die
Their children cry, their widows weep,
They live with pain for many years
To HONOR THOSE WHO PLAYED THE PART
Check ou this web site: http://www.greenberet.net/HaLo
Angels are Everywhere - "The Soldier"
In 1949, my father had just returned home from the war. On every American highway you could see soldiers in uniform hitchhiking home to their families, as was the custom at that time in America. Sadly, the thrill of his reunion with his family was soon overshadowed. My grandmother became very ill and had to be hospitalized. It was her kidneys, and the doctors told my father that she needed a blood transfusion immediately, or she would not live through the night.
The problem was that Grandmother's blood type was AB negative, a very rare type even today, but even harder to get then because there were no blood banks or air flights to ship blood. All the family members were "typed," but not one member was a match. So the doctors gave the family no hope; my grandmother was dying.
My father left the hospital in tears to gather up all the family members, so that everyone would get a chance to tell Grandmother good-bye. As my father was driving down the highway, he passed a soldier in uniform hitchhiking home to his family. Deep in grief, my father had no inclination at that moment to do a good deed. Yet it was almost as if something outside himself pulled him to a stop, and he waited as the stranger climbed into the car. My father was too upset to even ask the soldier his name, but the soldier noticed my father's tears right away and inquired about them. Through his tears, my father told this total stranger that his mother was lying in a hospital dying because the doctors had been unable to locate her blood type, AB negative, and if they did not locate her blood type before nightfall, she would surely die. It got very quiet in the car. Then this unidentified soldier extended his hand out to my father, palm up. Resting in the palm of his hand were the dog tags from around his neck. The blood type on the tags was AB negative. The soldier told my father to turn the car around and get him to the hospital.
My grandmother lived until 1996, 47 years later, and to this day no one in our family knows the soldier's name. But my father has often wondered, was he a soldier or an angel in uniform? Sometimes, we never know who God will bring into our lives to carry out a special mission nor do we know whose lives God will have us touch.
The Forgotten War
By Eli Culbertson
The cold bleak hills of Korea
Are far away from the USA
Where we fought the fight for freedom
And the right for human liberty.
And in captivity as POWs, we saw
The worst of inhumane treatment
That man can give to man
It happened in the Bean Camp, Paks Palace
The Mining Camp, Death Valley,
In the Cornfield and on the Death March.
It consisted of beatings, murders, and starvation
Brainwashing, mock trials and isolation
Kneeling barechested in the snow,
Standing with arms held high
While the Bull or the Whip beat you over the head
With corn cobs or sticks or rifle butts,
And all allowed since each guard was
His own judge, jury, and executioner.
And this was done in the name of
Stalin and Kim, IL-Sung.
Whether the "Tiger" led this
Or by "Dirty Pictures Wong"
It is still remembered in my mind
As a long dark dreary passage of time
Which many of us could not endure
It was really not "Give-up-it is"
The flesh was weak and the mind unable to cope
But why did some of us die,
And others live?
I know not why.
Sometimes Ive said, simply, that
"I would not let the bastards kill me."
And yet there is more to it than that.
As Father Coyos reminded me at my daily prayer,
"Please God, increase the value of this food".
Brings to mind what our captors used to say,
"Well, if you believe in God
a.. Then let him feed you."
So I suppose in many cases, such as mine
But how can we live today,
Without remembering the past?
And most important, we must remember our
Buddies who did not make it.
Thornton, Jester, Anderson, Cox, McKinley
And the Roll Call goes on.
Left behind. Somewhere on the cold Korean
Hillside, or beside the road.
Lets bring them home.
If not their remains, at least their Roll Call
Enshrined forever in appropriate memorial
As at the Punch Bowl
TO THAT FORGOTTEN WAR.
The above poem, if you want to call it that, was written in 1992 during the Gulf War. It was used as part of my group therapy for PTSD, which most POWs have. Eli Culbertson.
A G.I.'S THOUGHTS
I was walking my post on a Korean night,
The wind was cold and the area quiet,
I was thinking of home, and the loved ones there;
Over here friends, those thoughts aren't rare;
Of the end of the war and the time of return,
And the things back home for which I yearn.
I could see the flash of the guns in the sky,
And I prayed for those who tonight would die
For a cause and belief they knew was just;
Secure in their faith, for in God is their trust.
Dying for freedom and a sincere peace;
Praying for the day when hostilities cease.
They are only young men doing a war's dirty work,
Guarding our freedom from the evils that lurk
In the acts and teahings of the tryant race'
For the rest of the world, setting the pace
In the fight for freedom and a lasting peace
Aggression, and all its' fears must cease.
These things I thought as I walked my post,
And it seemed to me, I could see the host
Of men who had died in freedom's fight
Being joined by those who passed on tonight.
As I walked with God a prayer I said,
"Peace for the living and rest for the dead."
written at K-13 in 1952
ONE DAY AT THE FRONT
I heard the roar of an airplane
Diving for the kill,
Heard the chatter of its' guns,
Saw men dying om the hill,
Heard the crash and thunder,
Saw the flash of the heavy guns,
Heard the rumble of the tanks,
For the battle's just begun.
I heard the scream and boom of shells
Tearing up the sod,
Heard the voice of a GI
As he softly prays to GOD,
I heard the cry of a wounded soldier
On a hillside swept with snow
Saw the hurrying forms of medics
Taking the wounded down below.
I heard the whine of a glancing bullet
Screaming toward the sky,
Heard the thud of another,
Saw a GI fall and die.
Heard the whistle of a large shell,
Saw the foxhole where it hits,
Heard the boom of its' explosion,
As it blow a man to bits.
I hear the order being given
For the men to take a hill,
See them meet a wall of hot lead,
See some fall and lie still.
After many bloody hours,
And the loss of many men,
Thay have taken the objective,
To be driven back again,
Leaving more good men dying
On the hillside as before.
I hear the order being given
To retake the hill once more.
Another village we have taken,
But on the outskirts of this town,
In a ditch, we saw some GIs
Where the REDS had shot them down,
Their hands tied behind their backs
Tied with barbed wire so tight,
There was blood on everything,
I will ne'er forget that sight.
Men are fighting and are dying
On the battlefields of war,
Pray for them, my fellow townsmen,
Even if you do no more.
A KOREAN VETERAN
We just said goodbye to a good man,
A husband, a father, a friend,
A buddy to all who knew him
In that land where young lives did end,
A loving and devoted grandfather,
All these and just one thing more;
A neglected combat veteran
Of the forgotten Korean War.
Over fifty four thousand men died there,
Proud to answer their countries' call.
Over eighty one hundred still missing,
For no one could see them all fall.
No black granite wall for their tribute,
No statue to honor their dead,
No names were written in concrete;
Just a lonely white cross at their head.
No Hallowed ground foe their sleeping,
No flags to wave in the wind,
Just the hills where their blood flowed so freely
And the faithful boys' there did end.
The hills hold all the memories
Of the men who gave up their lives.
They are the monuments to honor our soldiers,
They'll endure through mans' anger and strife.
The first men died south of Suwon,
In the retreat back to Pusan;
Here they held to a small fragile foothold,
Against the enemies waves, they held on.
They finally broke out of the preimeter
And north to the Yalu they fought.
There the Chinese joined in the conflict
And made all the dying for nought.
Ther was Glouscester, Hamburger, nd No Name,
The peaks of Jane Russell took an iron will.
The summit of Old Baldy came down a few feet,
And blood ran in streams down Pork Chop Hill.
They left blood in the harbor at the city of Inchon,
And in the battle for Seoul many a good man fell,
At the reservoir of Chonjin they were surrounded,
And the retreat to Hamhung was a cold, icy Hell.
There were victories, just dig in and hang on.
It was a vicious, long, dirty, small war.
The young men who fought in this conflict
Became old men, changed evermore.
When hundreds of Chinese charged up the hill,
And the guns became too hot to hold,
They became so sick of the killing,
Their young spirits became so hard, and cold.
Their blood consecrated all of the mountains,
And the rivers flowing through the land.
Became the only monuments to all these men,
And in honor they'll evermore stand.
When my life on this Earth is over,
And I shall dwell down here no more.
Just say "We have buried another veteran
Of the forgotten Korean War."
written by in 1976
It Has Always Been
It has always been the soldier,
Not the president,
Who takes care of us.
It is the sailor,
Not the reporter,
Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the marine,
Not the poet,
Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the airman,
Not the campus organizer,
Who gave us the freedom to demonstrate.
It is the person in uniform,
--- who salutes the flag
--- who serves beneath the flag
--- and whose coffin is draped by the flag
That allows the protestor to burn the flag.
Copyright © 1998 Korean War Veterans National Museum and Library
Copyright © 1998 Korean War Veterans National Museum and Library