He had just turned nineteen and was in his prime
When his life was taken before its time.
There were so many things he wanted to be;
There was a great big world he wanted to see.
You are only young once, and it’s time to have fun,
But the country’s at war, and they give you a gun.
You love your country, so whatever will be,
Even if it means fighting on land or on sea.
He thinks of a wife who will hold him tight;
He thinks of children, asleep in the night.
He would go back to school and get his degree;
A man can be anything in this land of the free.
He could take lessons and learn how to fly,
To be like the birds, soaring high in the sky.
He could become a preacher, or write a poem,
Or become a carpenter and build you a home.
He could work with the sick and help make them well,
Or go into a business, whose products he’d sell.
He could become a musician and play in a band,
Or become a politician and help run this land.
He could become a teacher and help kids with their dream,
So everyone in this country will work as a team.
When his parents got old, in the twilight of life,
He would take care of them, with the help of his wife.
When he was in battle he did find time to write,
“Please don’t worry about me as I go into the fight;
I love you all dearly, and will all the time.”
But God had plans for this Marine in his prime.
He was my older brother and also my best friend;
Even with his death, those thoughts never end.
The years go by, and I think of him still;
He gave his life for his country, a Marine called Bill.
He died so young, and the world will never see;
What could have been will never be.

*     *     *
About the author: Frank Niader (Clifton, NJ) is the brother of Private William Niader (USMC), who was KIA on 12 June 1945, on Kunishi Ridge, Okinawa. Frank wrote the above poem on 18 May 2001, in memory of his brother.

>>>  Poetry Page
>>>  Memoir Page
What Could Have Been