By Brant Miller - Peace Corps Volunteer, Honduras (1975 - 1977)
This poem is about the parade that took place from Arlington National Cemetery to the Lincoln Memorial at the end of the 50th year celebration in 2011.
I joined the Parade on the Metro to D.C.
The cars filled with returned volunteers of all ages
Trading stories that wove through the morning like fibers
Of a single flag flying with peace in the wind.
We walked a crooked path up the Arlington road
Drawn to the flame of a life ended too soon.
Paying respects, then onward to hear
Stories of the fallen in the nations we served
From parents who outlived the child but not the dream.
Tears fell, a choir sang, and knowing it could have been us
We were all the more grateful to gather that day.
The last speech was given, the first steps were taken
To walk down that hill and regroup by our flags.
Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, we hoisted our colors
Loyal to memories and friends we had made
And hoping our seeds took root and still grew
In Honduras, Lesotho, Nepal and Oman.
We smiled and passed those banners around
More sharing than marching, this army of hope
From the first ‘60s groups to the last fresh-faced grads
One-hundred and thirty-nine countries, one family.
We stopped and took pictures when we ran out of road
And vowed not to wait fifty more to return.
Very few generals have paid us much mind
But somewhere a Sargent still can’t stop smiling
This poem was entered in the returned Volunteer category for the 2015 Peace Corps Poetry Contest. The contest received more than 1,000 submissions, representing over 50 years of Peace Corps service in more than 100 countries.