A Man is a Man by His Actions

[Another contribution by JW; this one shows more similarities between us, since we both grew up in bad areas, went to the military, and were wounded.]

I’m a boy from the slums where livin’ is rough
Fought daily for survival, you’ve got to be tough
One on one is expected, but one against many is too
Arise and keep swingin’ or they’ll walk all over you

If you can’t take a fall and quickly bounce back
You’ll never earn respect, and they’ll never cut you slack
You learn to be ruthless, when ruthless is called for
But don’t let it change you, not deep in your core

Being ruthless is not the same as being mean
It’s taking others down, but keepin’ it clean
Purely for self-defense or in defense of others
Continue to respect life: fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers

From slums to foreign soil when fightin’ for “Uncle Sam”
For freedom and G.I. brothers… screw the political flim-flam
Busted and bloody, but I returned standing tall
But don’t give me no praise, give it to those who gave all

Dad said, “A man is a man by his actions
not from his years on Earth;
he sweats courage and bleeds honor
and guards integrity for all it’s worth.”

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Who am I?

[Another contribution from JW: both art and poem.]

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Who am I?
I am the interpretation of my scars – seen and unseen.
I’m told everyone has a story.
I do not know but mine.
The beauty of youth once graced the cover,
but scars have always been the text.
Twas’ once… and only once… I bore no scars.
That was the time I had yet to live.
The first scar to my name
came at the point of birth.
Had I known what was coming
I might’ve curled back up inside.
I have several scars through child’s play.
Then another here, and two more there,
from adults who misbehaved.
With skin to asphalt I learned
that road, like skin, does have a rash.
O’ fighting scars, my history holds,
three-hundredfold, no jest partake:
though more within than out remain.
Till off I’m sent for our common uncle,
signed-up five days past seventeen.
I’m told adventure will be mine,
a man I will become.

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Stepped on soil in foreign places:
learned a truth I want to forget,
a truth no recruiter will tell a child.
In order to put away childish things,
a step taken to manhood,
it merely cost the lives of others –
and my blood staining the sand.
My skin did part like the Red Sea
as Moses held hands high.
First once… twice… than twice again,
so many surgeries past.
Uncle Sam, he did disown me.
His promises were dust.
Though it was he who set the policy,
it was I who paid with pain.
Pain to me is life…
my daily diet.
Scars now live… inside and out,
these scars I know so well.
The unseen ones are just as real,
and oft-times they bear more honor.
I pity those whose visible scars
were self-inflicted.
All beauty is not appealing.
All scars are not unappealing.
Beauty forges vanity,
scars forge character.
It is the “beautiful” people who shun me the most.
Their character has never been tempered.
My scars testify to my courage.
Scars from heroism trump the beauty
so common on the model runway.
I’ll take my battle scars
over your beauty awards – any day.
Maturity understands
why battle scars are beauty marks.
There’s a reason pretty boys die in battle,
while this junkyard dog survived.
Beauty on the battlefield is merely cannon fodder.
Battle scars: a clearer fashion statement
than scarification, body piercing, or tattoos.

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Every masterpiece appears scarred
when still a work in progress.
Yet when it scars with age
it becomes no less a masterpiece.
Society urges me to bare my medals,
yet hide my scars.
While shunned by others
I’ve learned to cherish myself – scars and all.
“Vet” now rolls off my tongue,
no longer caught in my throat.
I am scarred for life,
yet feel no shame.
Who am I?
I am the interpretation of my scars – seen and unseen.

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[JW has become closer than a brother. We’re both disabled Vets and compatible in many other ways. And kat and I wish to thank him again for all he’s done during this bad period we’re going thru.— AJT]