Just a Common Soldier

My old high school buddy flapjawman sends me stuff constantly. I’m still about 100 emails behind. He sent this poem a couple of days ago, complete with apology:

(sorry, no reference, someone emailed it to me)

I’ve chewed him out several times for sending me stuff w/o references or links.

Here’s the poem as sent:

He was getting old and paunchy
And his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion,
Telling stories of the past.

Of a war that he once fought in
And the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies;
They were heroes, every one.

And ‘tho sometimes to his neighbors
His tales became a joke,
All his buddies listened quietly
For they knew where of he spoke.

But we’ll hear his tales no longer,
For ol’ Bob has passed away,
And the world’s a little poorer
For a Soldier died today.

He won’t be mourned by many,
Just his children and his wife.
For he lived an ordinary,
Very quiet sort of life.

He held a job and raised a family,
Going quietly on his way;
And the world won’t note his passing,
‘Tho a Soldier died today.

When politicians leave this earth,
Their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing,
And proclaim that they were great.

Papers tell of their life stories
From the time that they were young
But the passing of a Soldier
Goes unnoticed, and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution
To the welfare of our land,
Some jerk who breaks his promise
And cons his fellow man?

Or the ordinary fellow
Who in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his country
And offers up his life?

The politician’s stipend
And the style in which he lives,
Are often disproportionate,
To the service that he gives.

While the ordinary Soldier,
Who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal
And perhaps a pension, small.

It is not the politicians
With their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom
That our country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger,
With your enemies at hand,
Would you really want some cop-out,
With his ever waffling stand?

Or would you want a Soldier--
His home, his country, his kin,
Just a common Soldier,
Who would fight until the end.

He was just a common Soldier,
And his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us
We may need his like again.

For when countries are in conflict,
We find the Soldier’s part
Is to clean up all the troubles
That the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honor
While he’s here to hear the praise,
Then at least let’s give him homage
At the ending of his days.

Perhaps just a simple headline
In the paper that might say:

Now, I did find a source for this. I ‘binged’ the first verse. (I use Bing instead of Google these days.) Bing returned the following hit:

Just a Common Soldier

© 1985 A. Lawrence Vaincourt

A. Lawrence Vaincourt (WW II Air Force veteran) wrote this poem in 1985 for his newspaper column and it was reprinted in his 1991 book RHYMES AND REFLECTIONS (available from its publisher at  For information regarding reprints or to contact Larry, please e-mail

Veteran’s Day will be coming soon. This would be perfect for recitation at any Veteran’s Day event.

I’m also hoping that Mr. Vaincourt won’t be too upset. After all, I did some research and found the proper person to credit. This is apparently making the email rounds sans credit.

Posted by Christopher    United States   on 08/22/2010 at 03:24 PM   
  1. Christopher .....
    WONDERFUL!  Never saw this before and am gonna share.

    This also reminds me and I have a post planned on it, of an article in todays paper that is just maddening.  There is a new game out, hope I didn’t lose the article, you would not believe the pile of papers I have here, anyway .... its a war game set in today in which you can be the Taliban or any terrorist ... and shoot American and Brit soldiers.
    A freekin game.  It’s got a number of people upset and understandably so.

    I’m not a gamer and so maybe should voice opinions but somehow I thing that while our guys are bleeding in a current war situation, that is just gross.
    Furthermore ...  even in WW2 games, and I admit I don’t play those either, with the war so long over, I know I couldn’t play the German side. Yeah,yeah, war over and only a game but somehow, I don’t know. I just couldn’t play shooting our guys.
    I guess that’s why I’m not a gamer.

    However ... I could happily shoot the hell out of a neighbors high pitched barky damn dog.
    But that’d be the subject of another post.

    Posted by peiper    United Kingdom   08/22/2010  at  03:28 PM  
  2. its a war game set in today in which you can be the Taliban or any terrorist ... and shoot American and Brit soldiers.
    A freekin game.  It’s got a number of people upset and understandably so.

    I don’t get the problem. In any wargame somebody has to be the ‘bad guys’.

    I grew up playing Avalon Hill wargames like Third Reich, Richtofen’s War, Jutland, Arab-Israeli Wars, 1776, Panzer Blitz, Panzer Leader, etc. Also SSI games like Vietnam, Civil War, Third Fleet, etc. Somebody always had to be the Germans, the British, the Vietnamese, the South, etc. The whole point of wargames is what Newt Gringrich calls ‘living history’. ‘What if’ things had been decided differently.

    Might depend on the definition of ‘wargame’. In my view, a ‘wargame’ is a simulation of historical events. The game involves an evaluation, in game terms, of the capabilities of the antagonists forces. The difference is the player might choose a different strategy than was chosen historically. So, back to Mr. Newt’s ‘living history’ approach.

    Now, if this is just an arcade ‘shoot ‘em up’, that’s not a wargame. Nor was a previous game called ‘Going Postal’.

    Posted by Christopher    United States   08/22/2010  at  03:59 PM  
  3. Yeah but Chris… this war is ongoing. There are young kids being killed. In fact, according to reports last day or two, the Taliban have actually hired snipers to kill Brits and have taken out 10. Brits that is.

    I believe Brits sent in drones when they located some. These are mercs btw. Whatever.
    It isn’t the same thing I don’t think.  Not while our guys are dying over there. Somehow playing a game that has killing our ppl while they are already dying, I don’t know. Just can’t see it.

    Posted by peiper    United Kingdom   08/22/2010  at  04:33 PM  
  4. I dunno peiper,

    I’ll refer you to my mention of Avalon Hill’s Arab-Israeli Wars. Now, I’ll grant that ‘our guys’ weren’t dying over there then, but the Arab-Israeli conflict has been ongoing my entire life.

    As for SSI’s Vietnam, t’was a close thing. ‘Came nigh to be spoilin’ me pantaloons.’ (not sure what that means, but I’ve been dying to use it in a sentence since I read it in Bored of the Rings.) The war ended far too close to when I’d have had to go. (mind you, I’d have gone, just didn’t want to. It was obvious we weren’t there to win. If I’m going to die for my country, my country better be in it to win!)

    The military is wargaming past, present, and future conflicts constantly. That’s all they do at the War College.

    Once again, is this just an arcade game shoot-’em-up? One where you’re the Taliban shooting Brits, Amercs, Canucks, etc? That’s different. That’s not a wargame. That’s just pure evil.

    Posted by Christopher    United States   08/22/2010  at  05:25 PM  
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