In honor of Veteran's Day, I am posting a couple of poems I wrote based on the Library of Congress Veteran's History Project interview of my grandmother's late husband, Scheller Garlock. Scheller served our country in both WWII and the Korean War and retired from the Army as Major. He was a wonderful and amazing man, and I am grateful for the years my family had with him.
The two poems I am including are from different parts of a poetic sequence that follows Scheller's military career. "We Were Hollywood" is about his time in the Army War Show, a traveling show that demonstrated the great warm machine and sold bonds to support the war effort. "Sons of Bitche" is in reference to a German practice of impersonating dead American soldiers in order to get behind enemy lines. Bitche is a town in France. After the Americans took it back, the men involved in the mission started calling themselves the Sons of Bitche. Scheller was proud to be among them.
We Were Hollywood
Picked for our looks, we played war
to earn money and recruit men - with out tanks
and guns loaded on trains, we occupied cities from
Baltimore to Milwaukee.
Stadiums shook with explosions
and applause while the Master of Ceremonies -
some famous guy I can't remember - announced
each act to the audience.
Dressed in starched uniforms, we fought
off the girls who thought
us famous - movie stars.
Plying our Uncle's trade,
in front of thousands, each night
we rehearsed the part we would soon play
and told them this was war.
Sons of Bitche
Stuffed in G.I. uniforms like a hand in a puppet,
they wore the dog tags of the dead
from further up the line. Pilfered identities
could not hide their butchered English,
and discovery always meant death.
An unforgivable blasphemy,
to wear the clothes of the dead,
they were punished for their heresy.
Stripping them of their American skin,
so we could kill the German heart.