Scars of War
This story’s about a Windsor boy, really a man,
who just graduated from high school, a man with a plan.
This man had energy, a good mind and a brain,
No lack of confidence, or, at least none he could feign.
He was Captain of the football team,
Dating the sweetest girl they called ‘prom queen’.
He was a singer in musicals at Walkerville School,
His voice – second to none, everyone thought he was cool.
Those chiselled good looks and a million dollar smile,
Would help take him a long way for quite a while.
From the outside looking in, this man was destined for success,
But for a moment, please allow me to digress.
For this man was called to serve once diploma was in hand,
And his service was more than playing trumpet in the military band.
Although service to his country had never crossed his mind,
No finer physical specimen could the Canadian Forces find.
It’s 1944 – we’re nearing the end of the Second World War.
But at that time we didn’t know this, we just knew there’d be more.
Nazis advancing everywhere – wild, like boars,
More soldiers needed to settle the score.
The young man they called Jack was off to distant places,
To fight many o’ battles in unknown spaces.
As he moved to walk out the front door,
Mother fell to her knees on the kitchen floor.
Tears steaming from her face – intuition deep in her core.
Dad fought back those tears – you know men don’t cry.
Although water sat decidedly in the bottom of his eye.
“Come back in one piece….we love you son.
We’ll be waiting for you here when you’re all done.”
And he hugged his son so hard, not wanting to say goodbye,
For if he said that one word he would surely start to cry.
So with a stiff upper lip, he said, “Write often – let your mother know you’re ok.
And come home soon, son – stay out of harms way.”
And off Jack went with the optimism of youth.
The invincible young lad fighting for truth.
Against an enemy on foreign turf with very little couth.
And fought he did.
Battle after battle.
Field after field.
Body after body.
Death after death.
“I don’t think this war will ever end,” Jack said under his breath.
And then……Hitler shot his soul next to a woman named Braun.
And very soon thereafter the sun once again shone.
And the adrenaline of the fight,
turned from fear to delight.
For Jack was headed home to Windsor – it was the end of the war,
12 pages torn the calendar before he’d enter through that front door.
No tears could be held back when mother touched his face,
But his parents knew in an instant the young lad they sent away was not in the same place.
He looked much the same, a little older perhaps,
But young Jack had no interest in seeing his old chaps.
For the young man who was sent half-a-world away,
Did not return the same person on that sunny day.
He once had the world by the ‘proverbial tail’,
He now spent most of his time alone, drinking ale.
Some friends told him to get out of his funk,
No use wallowing in thoughts of historic junk.
“The war is over, move on with your life.
Pull yourself together,” said the neighbour’s wife.
But it isn’t easy to heal the scars of war,
For they reside deeply imbedded inside Jacks’ core.
It is hard to erase the blood he had seen,
Those he’d killed, not knowing how humans could be so mean.
Mean to one another in a place far away,
Help me numb my brain just to get through this day.
They called Jack a hero – awarded medals galore,
But they all sit neatly in the top dresser drawer.
For the site of this metal hanging on his chest,
Causes Jack terrible dreams and much unrest.
The memories they relate to he can’t shake from his head,
Death and destruction and a year full of dread.
Thoughts of how the world had gone totally mad.
He know not how to share his feelings with dad.
And as Jack rebuked all others – there was one for whom he dreamed,
The one he left behind, the high school prom queen.
He longed to see her face and to tell her how he felt,
But his mind kept thinking about hanging himself – with that old black leather belt.
And she tried, and tried, and tried to reach her favourite man.
There’s no way in hell she’d give up on him, for, she, was his biggest fan.
She couldn’t bare the thought of watching him go down,
She needed to find a way to make a smile from his frown.
So the prom queen rallied the troops in this place called Windsor City,
She rallied the mayor, the paper and others too, but not to show their pity.
What Jack needed to know is that we understood his pain,
That his service to our country was not given in vain.
That the scars of war unseen could be shared with tears and sorrow,
So that all of us Windsorites knew, what he did, was for our tomorrow.
And as the sun rose on Ypres Street early one November morn,
The soul of our young Jack was about to be reborn.
As he dusted off his eyes and started internalizing his pain,
He heard a sound like no other, he knew not from where it came.
Mom and dad dropped their coffee and ran to the front,
Not knowing what type of menace they may have to confront.
But to their surprise, and the glory of their eyes
were 5,000 Windsorites coming with a prize.
Banners in one hand, horns and trumpets in the other,
Everyone was there – leaders, strangers, veterans, and 500 mothers.
As Jack stepped off the porch he soon did realize,
That everyone was here for him, or at least he did surmise.
But they all seemed like strangers, why are they here?
Why is my name being yelled in a cheer?
And from the crowd he noticed a group of his friends,
The guys from the football team were flanking the ends.
Old teachers, the mayor, and so many others,
Had marched to Jack’s house to show love for their ‘Windsor brother’.
And from nowhere at all came the prom queen, that dear,
She’d organized this parade, that was very, very clear.
She wouldn’t give up on the love of her life,
And he appreciated her so – he so wanted her to be his wife.
And just knowing that others could share in his pain,
Gave Jack what he needed to rekindle his flame.
That flame that burns in-us-all, that passion inside,
Helped burn down the walls that in Jack, were a mile wide.
And young Jack is here today – he’s alive in our heart,
His passion lives through all our soldiers in part.
The veterans, the actives, the peacekeepers and others,
You’re important to us all like Jack was to his mother.
And if the scars of war are open to see,
Trust Windsorites to help you, that I decree.
And if the scars of war lay deep inside,
The mirrored reflection is as if part of you has died.
Rest well knowing that people are there.
A whole community from the city of roses who truly, truly care.
And as that maple leaf flag flies high on that stem.
November 11th and everyday, we – will – remember – them.
Mayor Drew Dilkens
November 11, 2020