From the author:
This poem was inspired by a stone seen in a Civil War cemetery that stated simply, “He came to us unknown and died the same, this lad of 14-15 years”.
It is written for all those who died and were buried as an “Unknown” — no matter the war, the battle, the conflict — any site where there were casualties whose identity was not known.
“Known only to God”, the words on my stone
or maybe nothing written at all.
Just a board, a rock standing alone
To show that I answered the call.
I had a name — I tried to tell,
But no-one heard my cry.
They just left me where I fell
‘til “Graves Detail” came by.
But they weren’t mine.
I died in the wrong place,
Behind our enemy’s line
With no name for my face.
“Missing In Action; Presumed Dead”
Words in the letter to my Mom.
Or, “I saw him fall” a buddy’s note read,
“If I find him, I’ll bring him home.”
No band, no pipes, no fife or drum.
Just the scurry of passing feet
as they mark off the sites one-by-one
and march off down the street.
Oh, they’ll be back another day
to try to find out who we were,
I hope they’ll listen when I say,
“It’s me. Tell mom I’m here.”
I was someone’s brother; someone’s friend.
I cared, I shared, I laughed and cried,
I carried the Battle Standard high in the wind.
Then the cannon roared and I died.
Now down through the ages and through the years
I hear the tributes, see the flame;
The gnashing of teeth, the shedding of tears
For he who lies beside me and has a NAME.
The visitor with his flowers and his flag
Pays him honors, as he passes me by.
My stone with its words so sad
Seldom catches his eye.
There are thousands just like me
Who died without a name.
So little left for you to see,
A simple marker — no Eternal Flame.
No family to mourn for us,
No one knows we are here.
I have been asked to speak for us,
To give you this message clear:
“Had she known, she would have come
to show me that she cared.
But she never did, my dear Mom.
No one told her that I was here.”
© 1999, David B. McCurley