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About the Poem

Maturity is the result of both age and experience. But not all experiences are good ones, of course, and not all paths to maturity lead to the same destination. Some, indeed, lead into darkness.

This poem is old, of course, and easily dated. Particularly by the predictions in the last stanza. I was wrong when I assumed my country would win that war. But I think my final insight, reached as the result of the terrible twisting in my gut, has proven woefully accurate.

The Horrible Things I Did

When I was just a youngster
The worst that I could do,
Was steal a piece of pie,
And maybe a cookie or two.

But the older I became,
Oh, the horrible things I'd do;
Like stepping on ants and bugs --
The thousands I must have slew.

Now I'm grown, they tell me.
I wear the uniform of my land.
And today I finally did it --
Today I killed a man.

I didn't know his name;
His color was different than mine.
But he must have had a mother
Who'll, somehow, stop crying with time.

And when my tour is over,
And I see my wife and kid,
I'll have to stop and think
Of the horrible thing I did.

And when the fighting’s over,
And this war is finally won,
History will tell our children
Of the horrible things we've done.
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© 1998 Ron Carnell Please respect the rights of the author and Passions in Poetry. If you would like to use this poem on your own web page, please contact the Author. Thank you.

10 Visitor Comments

Bianca
this poem is very true and it has touched my heart. because i can relate my father is a alcohlic and it hurts very much
Slightly
This poem is so heartfelt it brought me to tears. big thumbsup from this military brat.
tia
Wonderfully written! Im the proud 29 year-old sister of a US MARINE who is 18 years old I tell him "Careful what you see you can never unsee it, careful where you point it you may have to fire it. " I am going to send this to him. God bless you, we America couldn't be free without the brave men and women like you who suffer for our freedom. There is a higher authority to judge you and he will hold a place for you. Thank you again Sincerely t. t.
Courtney
it blows me away. i think this poem should be sent to EVERYONE in the world. its such an insparation to end war.
Corey
I enjoyed this poem it helped me through bad times and i'm achually presenting this poem today in my english class.
Gloria
This poem really touched me. My father fought in the Vietam War. He was 17 we he went over there. I always saw the saddness in his eyes which I never understood. He died 2 years ago of cancer but I would say it was more from a broken heart. He had to suffer his whole adult life remembering those tragic nights. He said it was a scene in his mind that would never leave him. He had to kill many he said but in the end it killed him. So your poem touched me very deeply.
Eddie
Excellant, I am a soldier coming to the end of 22 years of service and every day I thank the lord I don`t have to carry or harbour any feelings of guilt in knowing I have killed someone. You could say that I have been very lucky????? However,I would have pulled the trigger had the situation been such.
frosty
love it the ending is the part that got me
Tonya
I loved this poem because I have had people die in wars and I't made me feel good that the person in this poem feels bad for killing a man even if he had to.
lisa
He blows me away.

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