Monday, December 7, 2009

Pearl Harbor Day Tribute: Poetic Mystery!

On this Pearl Harbor Day, a tribute about a well known poem and its mystery authorship!

 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.

Many of you may well have seen a version of this poem, attributed to Father Denis OBrien, veteran of the Marine Corps. In doing a little digging, it's actually authored by Charles Province, Army Veteran. Father OBrien had once submitted it to Dear Abby and got credit, and it's hung on with his name. If you ever republish it or forward it in email, please be sure it's credited properly.

However....on this Pearl Harbor Day, how about a double tribute? Both are heroes in their own right and have served our nation well! Father O'Brien's story includes his Pearl Harbor connection, so is quiate appropo for the day.

Charles M. Province

Charles M. Province, a veteran of the US Army, is the sole and single Founder and President of The George S. Patton, Jr. Historical Society. He is the author of “The Unknown Patton”, “Patton’s Third Army”, and “Patton’s One-Minute Messages." This comment was added onto his page at the IWVPA, which explains a little of the confusion about authorship of the poem:

Mr. Charles M. Province has contacted me with the request that due credit be given to his authorship of the poem, “It Is the Soldier”, which has, to my knowledge, for several years been attributed to Father Denis Edward O’Brien, USMC. Mr. Province has advised that Father O’Brien once sent a copy of the poem to “Dear Abby” and it was printed erroneously giving credit to Father O’Brien for writing it. It is at that point that the authorship became clouded. I reproduce this information in the hope of ensuring Mr. Province receives full, appropriate and most deserved credit for his wonderful piece.

Father Denis Edward O’Brien, M.M. (Maryknoll Missioner)

Father Dennis Edward O'Brien Spiritual Director, American Life League
October 8, 1923 – August 29, 2002
A Man for All Seasons

 Father Denis O’Brien was born in Dallas on October 8, 1923, and entered the seminary in 1941. But when Pearl Harbor was attacked, he quickly volunteered for the Marine Corps.

He served in the Pacific and participated in three campaigns; Café Gloucester, Peleliu and Okinawa. He often recalled the battle to take Peleliu as the bloodiest and most memorable — 1,336 Marines lost their lives and 6,032 were wounded. Later, as chaplain of the First Marine Division, he returned to Peleliu in 1994 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of that battle and to pray for all who died there. They were, as he described them, his brothers and all Marines. He often said, “We never left anyone behind.”

He said it was on that battlefield that he felt God’s call stronger than before. After he left the military service, he went into God’s service by studying at the Maryknoll Seminary in New York.

Father Denis O’Brien went on to be a missionary to the poor, the needy, the terminally ill and the “unwanted” in East Africa and Mexico. Father O’Brien so impressed the leadership of the Mexican bishops’ conference that he was appointed respect life director, a job he performed remarkably for 25 years. He trained doctors, taught medical students, spoke to high school and college groups, trained parents, and did it with a love for human beings and respect for the magisterium of the Church.

Photograph and Biography (Partial) with thanks to the Saint Pius X, Dallas Website

1 comment:

Velda said...

Thank you, Sandy. I love this poem and have sent the other version to others. I will now use this version in the future. Velda