The Ballad of Emmett Guerin

my name is Emmett Guerin, I've been  a ghost these many years; 

I suppose I'm all but forgotten, across this vale of tears...

I was cut down in my prime, a long, long time ago...

an angel caught 'tween earth and sky... In Italy, near Anzio.

 

brothers and sisters we raised as our children,

when our folks were too early gone...

made it clear through the 'Great Depression'

with the help of my sister, Marion...

it was she I flew to, to touch that night;

in the moment of my death...

no footprints in the snow at her porch light...

half the world in my dying breath.

 

they called us 'Black Devils in Baggy Pants'

those that ran and lived to tell the tale

poor boys hardened into heroes, into 'giants'

with the 'sand' to tip the scales...

from all points of the union, and we Canadians, of course;

and elite unit of fighting men...

the First Special Service Force...

 

it was with best intent I went to war;

I don't torture myself asking 'why'

I lay at rest, if not at peace; on foreign shores...

one more angel fallen from the sky...

 

my name is Emmett Guerin...

I've been a ghost these many years...

I once turned my hands to the guitar;

sang away my doubts and fears...

but life don't read like a story, shame...

all those young dream came undone...

my world changed the day that I exchanged;

the guitar for the gun.

 

my name is Emmett Guerin, and I hope to live on...

in the legends of my loved ones...

the songs of my sister's son.

 

   ...this song has a couple of factual inaccuracies, the result of faulty 

memory, family stories not properly retained... Emmett was indeed an aspiring guitarist, and volunteered for the First Special Service Force, a crack combined unit of both U.S. and Canadian commandos used to spearhead offensives and take on 'suicide missions'. One in five hundred men made the cut. Emmett was one of those. He did not get shot down while parachuting into Italy, as I recalled from family lore, he was mortally wounded by machine gun fire on 'the road to Rome'. My mother always maintained that it was Emmett that came pounding on the door in East City one night. She was coming down the stairs and had flung the door open in short order. to find no one there. There was, however, no snow on the ground; as it was springtime. The date and time was later confirmed when the local priest came to deliver the news some time (days, weeks?) later. 

   I grew up fiercely proud of my 'war hero' uncle whom I had never met' but as an older, wiser man; I sure do wish he had survived that great global tragedy and been here to show me my first few chords on the guitar. "...and so it goes...", I suppose. love to all, d.

 

 

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