Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Veterans Day Salute to My Hero

Daddy, you were the first man I knew
I learned so many things from you
How to swim and ride a bike alone
And the proper way to answer our phone.

When I was young, you went far away
To serve your country while we played
I didn't know then what it really meant
When to Vietnam you were sent.

From far away, you kept in touch with us all
While doing your duty and standing tall
Helping a people we never knew
As all of your children older grew.

You sent letters and cards to your girls and boys
With words of encouragement instead of toys
Telling us how to live and to grow
To learn the things we needed to know.

When you returned home, you took your spot
As head of the family, teaching us a lot
Taking us here and taking us there
Leading kids and Boy Scouts everywhere.

You answered whatever questions we asked of you
With things to remember that we knew were true
You showed us how to grow up strong and tall
To be men and women who helped one and all.

On this Veterans Day, I want you to know
I appreciate the ways you taught me to grow
Although I didn't always thank you back then
Now I know better and I thank you again.

You're no longer with us, yet you're still here
On this day and every day of the year
Watching and guiding with love in your heart
Until we're together again, nevermore to part.

Thanks for the gifts of your wisdom and words
Now we remember those things that we heard
Repeating them now that we are grown
Teaching the kids we now call our own.

Your 90 years passed so quickly
To us, it still seems like a blur
Your Scouts called you The Colonel
And your soldiers called you sir.

To us, you were Daddy, back then and still now
The man we looked up to, you showed us how
To live our lives in service to others
To respect and to love, especially our mother.

Thanks so much, I am so proud to call you Dad
The man I looked up to, even when I got mad
For those who you helped and those who you saved
For the lessons you taught and the words that you gave.

As we honor and remember veterans everywhere
I gaze toward Heaven and offer this prayer
Thank God for Daddy, my hero I'll never forget
A soldier among soldiers, a vet among vets.

-- Sandy Wallace, proud daughter of Colonel Robert A. Atkins, Sr. US Army Retired
Veterans Day 2015, adapted from my poem "On Ode to Dad: My Hero" written June 4, 2012

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