A Hero In The Grave

Twin brothers -- fraternal, not identical,
one grows up trusting, the other cynical.
One is outgoing and popular, the other shy.
One clearly the better in their parents' eye.

At everything, the favorite son does excel.
One day twin draft notices arrive in the mail.
It's 1965. In Vietnam, American boys are dying.
The favored son reports for duty, all flags flying.

The other twin believes this war to be a waste.
He refuses to serve, flees to Canada with haste.
A draft-dodger, a protester with his life to save.
His twin becomes a war hero...in a hero's grave.

Years pass...with Presidential pardon now in hand,
he gets to return to the good life in his birthland.
Consensus emerges: The anti-war protesters were right!
The smart thing to do was to run, to refuse to fight.

He lives a comfortable life for twenty years more;
then lung cancer suddenly pushes him to Death's door.
His last talk with his father: "To die happy, Dad,
I need for you to tell me that you're not still mad
that I didn't fill a hero's grave." "Then die sad..."

Harry Edward Gilleland      12.15.02