2016 Engage Toms River Great Arts Challenge – Theme is “Remembering our Veterans”


A Hero Walks Among Us by Jacqueline Andree
A hero walks among us
Or perhaps you did not see
Because he is not in uniform
And appears the same as you and me
You pass him on the street
And did not even glance his way
It never even occurred to you
The amount of debt you cannot repay
For he was willing to give up everything
His house, his job, his wife
To fight for your freedom
So you can carry on with your life
He fought alongside this country’s greatest
And cried for each one that fell
For only some of them made it home
The burden of which he will not tell
For you never could imagine
The pain he has endured
While fighting for this country
So your freedom was insured
He does not get much sleep these days
He tosses and turns all night
Because although the battle is over
The memories he still must fight
So say thank you to a veteran
And all those who proudly serve
For many heroes walk among us
And our gratitude they deserve

REMEMBERING OUR VETERANS By Christine Margarete Mania
Each morning we arise from a sound night’s sleep
To face another day where we are safe and complete
We go about our day to not look over our shoulder
It’s peaceful, it’s free, it’s all it can be
To chose where and when with family and friends
Coming and going as we well please
But outside of that life there is another,
Another who’s life that is not as similar
They travel abroad, as the family bids farewell
To serve and protect to honor our land
It’s a sacrifice they give that we all understand.
Keeping us safe is their ultimate mission
There are many indeed who keep us safe
I personally know of two who have been in that place
An uncle in Vietnam who was a Green Beret as special missions were given,
A young man forced into bravery, though one can only fathom the fear he had faced
The times at war he would never discuss
Which tells how much that young man endured
He survived the ordeal but not without scars
He soon after took his life, his own life from ours
Too much of his own battle he kept deep inside,
that of which seemed to never subside
Peace be with you my uncle
Another veteran whom I never had met
His son I married many years after his death
He was a navy veteran, seaman first class,
The Invasion of Normandy, the young man had fought
An LST ship this sailor had manned, as many of his comrades would fall,
what more fear can a man encounter then to have witnessed this all
He also survived this horrific ordeal, but was lost years later of a failing heart
although not until behind he left, a wife and young children, five of them yet
They painfully go on remembering their veteran, their hero, their husband, their father
Peace be with you father in law
Stories are told of many brave veterans, these are only of two,
There are many more we undoubtedly know
All these are the stories of bravery shown
Where would we be without the strong and amazing
I would not enjoy the morning sun or to wake my children when their day has begun.
I would not have my husband or my family to live as free as we can
This is all owed to the men and women who serve and protect our great land
There is never a time, I can honestly say,
Where the Star Spangled Banner is sung that I do not think of
All that have fought for what our country was founded under
I think of these young men back to the days
where the fight for our freedom begun and all they would endure
For the surviving to wave the American Flag in victory with pride
And for the fallen to be remembered as heros
There is never a time where I see a jet high above
That I not then pray to wish them well for their mission to be complete
And a safe return home to their loved ones
There is never a time when I see a man or woman
Who wear the clothes that show who they are
That I don’t nod an honorable nod or thank them for defending the Red, White and Blue
To all of you, there are no words to express the gratitude
You are always thought of and respected in my eyes
My heart is grateful, my admiration is high.
So to those who have served in the past and are still with us
To those brave souls we have lost
To those serving our country now
And to those who may soon come to serve
Thank you then, thank you now, thank you forthcoming
As I will forever and always
Remember Our Veterans

A Haiku Poem by Alexandra Majeski

Poppies in the wind
Our flag draped across the front
White clouds in blue skies

The Guardian By James Dow
Night falls, there is silence-
For now.
The Sun descends below
a line of rocky hills in the distance.
The vista of a desolate, barren
landscape fades in the darkness.
I lower my backpack to the
ground, but keep a tight grip
on my rifle.
It is dangerous work
we do, we soldiers, and
sailors and airmen.
I take a breather, enjoying the
twilight tranquillity,
and allow my mind
to wander from the images of
this forlorn desert to happier
thoughts of home.
I see my wife, reaching
out to embrace me in
her loving arms.
I see my children, smiling, playing,
free to be who they are,
who they will become.
It is for all those at home.
All those husbands and wives and
children that we fight, and sacrifice and
sometimes die.
We do it so all may the share in
the freedoms we so cherish.
So take heart America.
We are here to protect,
to serve, to persevere.
We are the guardians.
I lift my pack onto my shoulders,
and go to confront our enemies.

Remembering Our Veterans
“Strength” by Jennifer Renson

There was a time when sky and sea carried the message
on the faces and backs of those chosen to protect their home and country.

When swords and shields became
strength and selflessness in the hands of men born of freedom.
When every step into the unknown became
the beginnings of an unwritten journey.
When the stars at night became
the only comfort of another passing day of no rest.

They remember these days of smoke and sand.
From the beaches to the towns,
the open fields, endless seas of uncharted land.
They recount every breath that escaped their lips,
every blink, every touch of stone and brick.

Amongst the struggle, unbreakable bonds of friendship are born.
Molded in the loyalty and laughs, shared stories of the past.
The lighter side of the line drawn through countries separated by more than what was seen.

Those lost were carried back home with them.
They live on in the reflection of the eyes of their children and grandchildren for generations.
Their names attached to ours like weightless pendants on a necklace around our necks
that only we can see.
Only we will know they are there to share in our happiness.

The return is never an easy task leaving behind their former selves in the muddy trenches, desert sands, deep oceans and endless forests.
Scars remain unseen, grooved into them like trails of tracks.
Adjustment is just another ten letter word like victorious.
They have the power to transform themselves.

Breathing in fresh air fills their empty lungs, reborn again.
Living amongst the familiar they are unable to forget: the taste of salt in the air, the touch of metal in their worn hands, the sharp rain falling onto their skin, the sounds of brave voices calling out as one.
Those memories never fade.

we carry the message,
through still black and white photographs, saved heartfelt letters, yellow paged translation books, charcoal written diaries, wool and leather-made uniforms, framed metals and memories painted on their faces every time we hear songs under glorious stars and stripes.

Time creates new memories while keeping the old.
Two halves of who they are and who they are meant to be.
These men and women remind us that though they came from all walks of life, they were connected.
Like lines drawn on a map we are connected to them as one heart beating within this country,
chosen to be the voice of strength against the barriers of dominance and ignorance.
We remain thanks to them, we live because of them: the veterans.

Thank you for teaching me to be strong.
To hold on.
Thank you for my home.
A place to belong.

Together we rise to the call of your song.
We carry the message no fire can burn, no water can erase, no man dare take away.
Not ever.

The message:
You are not alone
You need to be strong
We have to hold on
We will be strong…now

The Mist and the Missed of Arlington By Roger Keiper

The early morning sunlight slowly lifts the mist hiding the chilling sight
Of grave markers perfectly aligned and spaced sleeping quietly through the night
Ready to rise and shine as taps plays to the early light
And they once again ready themselves to spiritually march
As they once did in life shoulder to shoulder together as one
The history of war speaks of victory and heroes
And the bouncing embattled echoes of the cries

From the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Those who have lived to fight another day
Whether finally home or again far away.

Never forgotten are the sounds of hissing bullets
Or the deafening roar of a fellow soldiers last breath louder than any bomb
And stinging the soul more than shrapnel burns the flesh
The survivors inner pain only they know
Hidden challenges only they really understand
They are warriors fighting a silent war raging within
Oh the chill of endless grave markers of Arlington
And the memories of distant battlefields where the ghosts now wander
Haunting the survivors not feeling lucky to be alive
We all need to remember war is never over for the soldier.

Our compassion for those who sacrificed all
Only surpassed by our thoughts for those still with us
Fighting a silent war that screams for our understanding and help
And deserving of so much more than they are often given
To help them rise above the mist that hides the pain of Arlington.

-Brave To The Grave- -Jaclyn Pasqualetto-

A soldier kneels before the grave,
Of a brother that he could not save.
He grasps the tombstone with both hands,
And weeps because he understands
The horrors that they’d both been through,
The things they’d seen and had to do.

The soldier blinks and dries his eyes,
And lifts his head up to the skies.

“Dear God, forgive the lives we’ve taken,
Our faith in you was never shaken.
Please have mercy on his soul,
This soldier lived up to his role.”

The soldier stands and lays down flowers,
And thanks the deceased for the hours,
He’s gotten to spend with loved ones,
The experiences with his sons,
The life he has that he otherwise wouldn’t,
If his brother hadn’t taken the bullet.

“Heaven can’t Wait” by Lenore Nevermore
Tempest may as tempest might prevail o’er feeble clout,
But the rolling gibe of the turmoil aloft
Would never compare to the deafeningly silent symphony
Conducted by the downpour of the naïve
The bugle sounded memoirs of bated breaths and laden qualms
Of he who shouts in thundering whispers
Heard only when the cock has crowed three times
And the burden of bereavement
That clung to the air with fervid ferocity
Splintered the earth below
With each shuffle of worn out soles
That disturbed the sickening reticence
Long enough to sever the tension
Between the extant and extinct
Although the blackbird who perched upon
The memorandum of a life no longer trod
Squawked with eerie calumny,
The celestial legion received their newfound warrior
With a salutation of striking light
And as the stately Oak surrendered to the valiance
Of the knight in verdigris armor,
The disconsolate congregation
Realized that the greatest champions
Fall first

Forever Indebted by Honora Beirne
For Sgt. John Lyons, Killed in Afghanistan 
He was that boy who ducked and rolled
out of Rory Dering’s Chevy Malibu and onto
our lawn with a light saber, accompanied by
his a cappella rendition of Vader’s epic
entrance music. He played the violin and held
degrees in Poli-Sci and Latin from Rutgers;

Well, he’ll never be in the pit of an orchestra or whisper
“Te amo,” in some lucky girl’s ear. In the obituary,
his brother said he felt indebted to the cause,
for freedom, for the country. I feel indebted to his art.

The kid who wore the pink polka-dot opera scarf
to prom; He was the one who very rarely wore shoes,
preferred thin linen pants to blue jeans;
Remember him? His long wavy, messy brown hair?
He wore one of those headband-sweatbands
and his whole face wrinkled when he smiled.

Well, his face is never going to wrinkled up again,
And his dirtied feet will never stamp our ivory kitchen floor.
In the obituary, his brother said he felt indebted to the cause
for freedom, for the country. I feel indebted to his smile.

Remember when Molly used to throw
those giant parties? He’d come up to keep
Johnny and me company until we were tired.
He’d pick us up and soar us around the
room like we were little airplanes. We were just
his friend’s little kiddie siblings.

Well, he can’t escape to be silly with the kiddies anymore,
and he’ll never again be the pilot of 3’7” fleshy airplanes.
In the obituary, his brother said he felt indebted to the cause
for freedom, for the country. I feel indebted to him.

I Do Not Know War by Heidi Hodges 
I do not know war
I barely know death
I need not worry
About my next breath

I’m lucky for life
Without fear or strife
My life is my own
Daughter, mother, wife

I can disagree
I’m free to object
For they paid the price
To secure, protect

I can love and lie
I can sing and cry
Here I’m free to live
So I too can give


By Cynthia Coleson-Schue

We all talk about the love we have for America

Most people know the history of this great country, whether through their education or through family

While we are blessed to have this honor, most people are unaware

Unaware of the sacrifices that had to be made for this gift!

Unaware it came only through the pain and sacrifices made through our soldiers!

This gift we call FREEDOM

This gift came with a high price – the price of our soldiers

This gift was fought hard for and earned even harder

The majority of our veterans enlisted, but not for themselves

They did this for our family, our neighbors, our country, and most important our future

If you were to take a moment and listen to a few veterans

Listen to Veterans of all different decades and different branches of the military being the Army, Navy, Marines or Coastguard

Listen and you will hear about all different countries they visited, all the different people and cultures they saw along their tour of duty

Some will tell you about the medals they received and the battles they fought, in which some were won and some were lost

Some will tell you about the death and destruction they witnessed

Some fought with guns and drove in tanks

Some fought with hand grenades and bombs

Some fought with their bare hands just to survive.

Some fought in foreign lands, on the sea and even in the air

Some fought and had to survive in the jungle, some lived in submarines under the oceans

But if you really listen

The worst battle was the losing of time, friends and communications from their family, not seeing the children grow up, missing birthdays, graduation, holidays and anniversaries

As Americans we should never take anything for granted in this wonderful country

The foods we eat, the clothes we wear, and the many items we all have around us and even just having the FREEDOM to be able just to go outside and walk – looking up at the sky or even feel the grass as you walk barefoot in a park

It’s because of our service men and women. We are able to survive, believe, have hope for our future with the freedom they fought for and won

FREEDOM, it is an ongoing battle while evil and terror still occur daily, our military and citizens will stand united as they did in the past for our future

Many of veterans came back home disabled, physically, mentally, and emotionally disconnected.

They had so many missions but only one goal. They did their part as promised, they served and protected our great country and never asked for anything in return!

We have this precious gift of freedom and it’s only due to the brave men and women that have served in our military

You have our prayers, thoughts and our never ending gratitude!

Many didn’t return but to all the ones who did

Thank you, our heros, our VETERENS