Salute

A POEM IN THREE ACTS

ACT ONE
(In which the motif is established)

The night after my nephew’s
graduation from Marine
bootcamp (I don’t think they
call it bootcamp) we went

to dinner on Coronado 
Island, seven of us, him in 
the dress uniform he had
spent two hours ironing

because the Marine Hymn
was my hummed ear worm
and every time I turned the
corner of the hotel suite

tromping the shores of
Tripoli, I would see him
and the iron both standing
at attention.  I would laugh

and say, “You really don’t
have to do that,” and he would
say, “Oh, but I do,” and he would
return to ironing until I

would again forget. Finally
pressed, white belt cinched,
white hat and gloves, red
piping, single chevron

on his sleeve, shoes shined
like Easter Sunday, the rest
of us dressed in pride and 
family.  And then that man 

came by our table to say,
“Thank you for your service
to our country,” and we 
were proud. 

ACT TWO
(In which complexities arise)

At our college graduation, 
the president asks for
different types of graduates
to stand - the first in their

family to go to college,
honors, 4.0s, youngest,
oldest, parents-slash-children,
husbands-slash-wives, siblings,

and military veterans, and
every year the vets get
a rousing ovation, the biggest
commencement applause,

and I wonder why it isn’t
the 4.0s or the firsts. This 
is a college after all.  Frankly,
most of us are pacifists. 

Well, the humanities folks
anyway. The parents and 
friends and aunts and uncles
in the audience for our

rural community college
graduation are the ones who
weren’t the first in their family
to go to college, and they

vigorously applaud when
the vets stand, and they yell 
and whistle like the war 
was just won.

ACT THREE
(In which some justice is served)

The yang of the nation
gets ample pomp and
circumstance, plenty of
praise and glory, deserved I

won’t argue, but more so than 
others? Not everyone can soldier, 
but everyone can serve, and
so I offer a salute. 

To the College Professor,
Sherpa of Curiosity, 
Whetstone, Lighthouse, On-Ramp,
Thank you for your service to our country.

To the Bartender,
Purveyor of Magical Elixirs,
Physician, Therapist, Vaudevillian,
Thank you for your service to our country.

To the Lawn Guy,
Rider of the Mechanical Machete,
Weed-Eater, Tree-Trimmer, Suburban Olmsted,

To the Musician and Actor,
Teller of Our Stories,
Drumbeat, Mirror, Catharsis Channel,

To the Delivery Driver,
Foot Soldier of Capitalism,
Dog-Treater, Bringer of Joy, Supply Chain Coda,
Thank you for your service to our country.

To the Farmer,
Maître d’ of the World,
Fence-Mender, Earth Mother, First Cause,

To the Building Contractor and the
Insurance Seller and the Nurse and the
Preschool Teacher and the Social 
Worker and the Mechanic and the 

Writer and the Lawyer, yes, even the
Lawyer, and the Undocumented Farm
Worker and the Bus Driver and the
Convenience Store Clerk and the guy

who stands in the middle of the 
road to stop and start the traffic
that has been reduced to one
lane because of construction,

Thank you for your service to our country. 


© 2020 Deb Moore, All Rights Reserved

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