Living large in Fatopia.

The Child of A Veteran


Around Memorial Day I saw a picture that was making the rounds on Facebook. It was “Unless You’ve Been A Soldier” by Clive Sanders. This very strong poem is worth reading and can be found here. Please take the time to read it. It is definitely worth it.

When it was posted as a photo, I read the comments and found a very moving and what I feel is a wonderful poem describing life from the spouses’ side of serving our great country by Christina Love titled “Unless You’ve Been Married To A Soldier”. This poem is the most popular comment on the photo and is at the top of the comments. I ask that you take a moment to read both poems in their entirety. If you do so, the three together can offer a rare look into what the whole family of a soldier may feel when they serve in our armed forces. This may not be true for all military families, but it touched a nerve in me that made me feel it is true of mine from my point of view at least.

I have contacted both authors about posting their poems in their entirety in this post and have not received a response. If I should receive their permission, I will update this post to include them. I do not agree with using someone else’s work without their permission and so do not do it.



I received permission from Clive Sanders to post his poem “Unless You’ve Been A Soldier” here in its entirety. I wish to thank him for his kindness. Again, you can find his original poem here.


Unless You’ve Been A Soldier

Unless you’ve been a soldier,
You just won’t understand.
The things that we have seen and done,
In the service of our land.
We were trained to live in combat,
And to deal with awful sights,
That shouldn’t be seen by anyone
And keep you awake at nights.We don’t discuss the wounds we have,
To the body or the mind.
We just put our hurts behind us,
And turn our memories blind.
We are proud we served our country,
But remember those we lost.
For the freedom that you have today,
They paid the awful cost.

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On Veteran’s Day, I offer my poem “The Child of A Veteran”. I didn’t write about being the child of a soldier because my dad had been out of the Navy for a long time before I came to be. Although he was no longer an active member of America’s military, in many ways he still serves the country that we all love so much today. You see, he fought in the Vietnam War and like so many others who have gone off to war, there is a part of him that will be there fighting that war forever.


The Child of A Veteran

Unless you’re the child of a veteran, there’s no way to understand,

The things that happened after our parents served our land.

All the time we wonder just what made them go and fight,

For a country that seems not to care if they have a meal or bed at night.

They went off to battle and served in all your wars,

They saw and experienced things that shook them to their core.

They were trained to live in battle while we learned to live in silence,

Giving them space to grieve their losses as we dodged residual violence.

Childhood ended much too quickly turning us into small grownups,

Taking care to not do things that might cause them to blow up.

Raised with great discipline to some great imagined code,

We’re not supposed to understand, just do what we are told.

Cry yourself to sleep at night, but never let them see,

They have enough to deal with without extra stress from me.

Everything is just perfect or so it must always appear,

Don’t let anyone get close, not even those we hold most dear.

We could not be prouder of our parents who served, but please understand,

It’s the WHOLE FAMILY that pays when a soldier serves our land.


Comments on: "The Child of A Veteran" (2)

  1. Very moving! I could not imagine being a child of a veteran. However, my dad and mom were children growing up in Europe during WWII. My dad came across a downed military plane and saw a soldier running away from the wreckage. He never told anyone because he knew one of his teachers among other adults were sympathizers of Hitler and he didn’t want to endanger the soldier’s life. He didn’t even tell us until my son, his grandson was doing a school paper a few years ago. War affects so many and leaves untold scars seen and invisible. Thanks for your post!


    • Thank you, Teresa. My parents were pretty open about everything with me and my brother growing up, so when my dad started going to the VA to seek treatment for his mental health issues, they were open about that too. I met and got to know some pretty amazing men and women who served in all branches of the military protecting and defending our great country. One thing that I noticed in all of them was that it didn’t matter where they were from or what branch they served in or even where they had served — all gave some, some gave all.

      Most people take that statement to mean that everyone gave a little something of themselves or paid the ultimate sacrifice with their life. I believe there are degrees of what people gave. Sure, some people were barely touched I’m sure, and I know there are those who gave their lives. But what of those who fall between those lines? What of the ones who left such a large part of themselves behind that it makes it really difficult for them to function in our world once they come home? Or folks like your dad, who, although not being a veteran, saw something that caused him to hide a part of his life for how many years from the people he loved the most?

      I just don’t think veterans, military personnel, or civilians who livee/live in areas where wars are being fought get enogh respect, credit, and support for everything they’ve seen and been through. We take perfectly “normal” and rational people and show them unspeakable things and ask them to do things I often don’t even want to consider, and then we ask them to come back home and act like none of it ever happened and tell them, “Don’t worry,be happy!” And then we wonder why it doesn’t work?

      Sorry about the rant. I guess it’s just still a raw spot with me because of my dad and the other vets I grew up around. Many thanks to your dad for not saying anything to anyone so that pilot would have a shot at survival. That had to be very confusing and so many other things for him. He’s a hero too.


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