by Cpl. Robert Lin Cook
Jan 1942-Sep 1945

They stood on line
those valiant ships,
their gray hulls clean and tall.
The sun had risen o'er the mast
the bugler made First Call.

Above the harbor came the first
to challenge from the sky,
their red-emblazoned wings of white
had borne them swiftly through the night
to where the mighty fleet
was resting by the piers.

A parade of famous names
of ships of the greatest line:
the finest of the fine.
Arizona and Maryland
were nestled close aboard
and West Virginia
was California's pard.
Even the old Neosho
was part of that great herd.

The beauty of those mighty ships
was scarred by blast and fire,
no chance had they
to win the day as
they did so desire.

Before 'twas done
those mighty ones
lay wounded and dying,
bravest-of-the-brave aboard
went down with flags flying.

Time has dimmed that day
of infamy and lying,
we trusted those 
who talked of peace,
of this there's no denying.
But we were eager to be friends,
our hands were out and trying.

I hope we've learned
from that mistake and
wisdom from it learned.
Perhaps we'll take 
a different stand
and not hold out 
a trusting hand
to some who 
don't deserve it.

*     *     *
The author: Robert Lin Cook served with Reg. Weapons Co. (2d-2d) from 1942-44, at Guadalcanal and Tarawa during a 33-month overseas tour.

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That Day