My grandmother, when very old,
These things to me she quietly told:
“Your father, of my sons the third,
From him you’ll never hear a word
Of certain deeds performed in war;
And so, before I die, I swore
To tell you what he’ll keep from all —
What I was told — what some recall.
Your father was a thoughtful lad;
Inclined to muse and sometimes sad.
No innocents the boy destroyed,
And confrontation he’d avoid.
He showed no liking for the fight —
He’d rather dream — to read and write.
And yet when cruel war raised its head,
His brothers to the fray he led.
And but for him, they now confide,
In foreign lands they would have died.
So this, to you, his son, I say,
Just take his mother’s words away:
In some men courage is concealed,
Till by necessity revealed —
It is the pounding of the guns
That winnows out the bravest ones.”
— D.N. O’Brien