|Posted by Nancy Elliott on July 24, 2020 at 11:10 PM|
In 2006 a friend brought me a shoe box overflowing with letters. They were letters home from a much admired Uncle she did not remember getting to meet. Her family said she had met Rick, but she didn’t remember because he was sent to war when she was still a toddler and, he did not come home. She only knew him from his letters home and family stories.
It was a huge affair when a letter came from Rick. The family and neighbors alike would gather and listen as one person read aloud. Then, Rick’s letter was passed around to all so they could read it for themselves. Rick’s letters were always about, and in this order, his horses, asking about family, girlfriends and friends and going on about the dances they would all attend when he got back from the war. He would write about running into so-and-so from the next town or ranch while he was on this island or that base. He wrote about new friends made while on his tour of duty, and how much they were all looking forward to hugging their families, kissing the girls and getting back to the home fires. He always wrote that it would be soon, real soon, they would see him coming over the fields, galloping home a’horseback one of his Mustangs.
My friend asked if I would pull some of her Uncle Rick’s story out of the letters, and write some poems to help her tell his story to her grandchildren.
Here are two of the poems which manifested from the letter box.
Uncle Rick was just a boy in his teens
in the Great Depression, a life far too lean.
So, with only a compass, a canteen and his horse
He left his poor family with great remorse.
While working cattle and breaking colts
some outlaw studs and a few plain dolts,
He met a wise rancher who saw he had mettle
and made Rick a cowboy of finest fettle.
The blood of the horse flooded Rick’s veins,
directing his life like the seasons change.
With an iron hand in a velvet glove
he'd break wild mustangs, his first true love
To this type of work Rick’s kind spirit was bent
and while training the ponies, his soul was content.
His whole reason for living was riding his horses
yet, when duty called, he joined the Armed Forces.
From the confines of war's regimens
Rick wrote of his horses to family and friends.
Dreaming on paper of times yet to be,
once more with his ponies, he longed to ride free.
But, battle cares not for a young man's dreams.
And, even honor and glory with fate do convene.
So, during the war we fought with Japan
Rick never came home from the land of Saipan.
We still read his letters and talk of his tricks,
how he made fine horses & chased those mavericks.
Mostly we think of the great man that he was.
For man is made up of the things that he does.
Rick was a man of strength and resolve.
Just why he is gone, we won't try to solve.
We'll just picture him on his wild mustangs,
a-whooping with joy and riding the plains.
(( “Uncle Rick” by Nancy Elliott 2006 Sonoran Desert Sage Publishing))
Stand for the Flag
They ride for the brand and they ride for the flag
They're not afraid to ride point, nor too proud to ride drag
They've ridden in sun, wind, snow and rain
They ride through hells canyons with no disdain
There's a life they love and refuse to surrender
Brave young soldiers all the world should remember
They hail from our mountains, valleys and towns
They ride for you, now, on the worlds battle grounds
They're fearless, undaunted, not just any mans' sons
They're fighting for you, The Fortunate Ones
They follow the colors and heed the call
With American spirit and gut where-with-all
They've fought for you since before you were born
For hundreds of years they've vowed and sworn
To fight for your children and grandchildren too
Till the Lord himself comes, they will follow it through
These freedoms we have were hard won with the blood
Of our brothers and daughters in the gore and the mud
And those stars on our flag are a sign for all man
That oppression and fear are not part of the plan
Now a soldier takes personal every star, every stripe
'cause he's charged hells gates for your freedoms, your life!
Stand tall, lift your hat, whoop a warrior's cry
Put your hand on your heart when our flag goes by.
((“Stand for the Flag” by Nancy Elliott 2006 Sonoran Desert Sage Publishing))
If you would like to use this story or the poems, just give me credit. It’s the courteous thing to do.
Singer, Songwriter, Storyteller, Seamstress, Dreamer