All it takes is a uniform and a flag

The call of duty in service to your country

To turn off any learned morality

Born by conscience or belief


Trained and provisioned

With the sole purpose of winning

Taking a life becomes just a job

One we are proud to be good at


We wear the medals with pride

Fruit salad served on our chest

A mark of the people who died

Envied as if a reward


Better them than us

A phrase often spoken

On both sides of the war

But only one gets to be right


Yet every life is a brother

Though different than one another

And these hands have given final rest

To people just like me


I would have rather been martyr than master

Where the long night seeks no answers

And we are measured by what we gave

Rather than by all we took


21 Responses to “Decorated”
  1. beth says:

    so powerfully said. I can’t even imagine to begin how difficult and heart-rending that must be.

  2. beth says:

    begin to imagine –

  3. sudrakarma says:

    Damn. Powerful stuff. Although “Fruit salad served on our chest” made me chuckle – but now that I think of its contrast to what they’re supposed to mean, again, very powerful.’

  4. Because of your service, and the tiny bit I know about it, these words hit me like a slap in the face. We, as a nation, never stop to think about what we ask of our soldiers when we sent them into conflict; we don’t even recognize that we have assigned tasks that may be beyond each soldier’s values and morals. For “God and country”? I’m not sure the God about whom I’ve been taught is pleased with the thousands killed – soldiers and civilians – in the throes of war.

    • Brad Osborne says:

      I am not sure how God feels about it either, especially when which God you choose can be the whole reason for the conflict.

      • mistermuse says:

        Well said, Brad. “Holy” wars remind me of what little boys have been known to say: My dad can beat your dad — except that the religious version is: My God can beat your God.
        But Russia’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine isn’t about religion. It is due solely to ONE evil man’s (Putin’s) madness. Thank God that Ukraine has a leader in Zelensky who personifies how to deal with evil men..

      • Brad Osborne says:

        Thank you! Adn suddenly there is a line to get into NATO.

  5. There is nothing more horrible and anti-human than war. Very well written!

  6. jeffd1121 says:

    I haven’t heard “fruit salad” when referring to a ribbon rack, in many years. Made me chuckle. Accurate and powerful words. Jeff, CMSgt, USAF (retired).

  7. petespringerauthor says:

    The sad part is that much of the anger and hatred toward others is often misguided.

    I’m back after a two-week brothers’ vacation, Brad. Guess who I saw on my travels? Jim Borden—post soon to come.

  8. jonicaggiano says:

    Sometimes I feel inadequate to speak, write, or respond to an amazing poem about war. My dad gave 20 years of his life to the military. He was proud of his service and so was I. One of my fondest memories is watching him light his black shoe polish and the care he took when polishing his shoes, I think it calmed him. I hold all military personnel in very high regard as well as the honor they achieved while serving. If I had my way guns would not exist at all for anyone. Thank you for sharing your feelings so beautifully about being a man who served his country. I am just grateful you are here to write about it and I too am grateful for that service. Blessings always, Joni

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