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Found By The Side of the Road
Not long ago, while taking my turn at a stop sign, I found myself confronted by a gentleman holding a sign. I expected that the sign might be ... Will Work For Food ... I had seen that often enough ... but this sign made some sort of reference to poetry ... donations of any amount accepted. Given my new role as World Wide Web commentator, I thought this might make an interesting topic, and wouldn't I like to stop and find out what this fellow was about. But, of course, I was in a rush, and there was this huge line of cars in front and behind me. As I reached the stop sign, I had the window rolled down and just sort of leaned out a little bit as if to indicate my predicament ... whereupon ... this "fellow" thrust a paper into my hand ... without so much as a glance to see if there would be anything coming back in return. The following is the contents of that document.

The Story of the Flags by Jim Bean
A Poet from Boston, Massachusetts

In 6,000 years of recorded history, history has recorded under 300 years of peace. I start my poem with "The War to End All Wars," supposedly World War One.

Flags were raised
Just half the way.
The bands played soldiers songs
To show our pride,
For all who died
To Keep their country strong ...

Then 25 years of history would pass
And the children who grew up during
World War One went off to fight in
World War Two, all over the earth,
And again ...

Flags were raised
Just half the way,
Bombs fell like thunder storms.
We passed the graves
Saw children pray
That daddy wasn't one.

5 years of history passes and a conflict called Korea occurs
But again ...

Flags were raised
Just half the way.
This time new jets were sent.
To kill the Reds,
And show the rest
That they were somehow safe.

10 years of history passes and another conflict occurs, only
This one would last 3 times longer than the War to End All War.
It would last 3 times longer then World War II and 5 times longer than Korea.

And some would claim
We passed the flag.
And closed the door
When Vietnam grew strong.
The ones who fought
and made it back,
Had lost their only home.

19 years of history passes and Desert Storm
comes along ...

Saddam Hussein sent an army of pain
To a peaceful place called Kuwait.
Minds of fear ... Many tears ...
Cross the seas to set them free.
Battleships fully dressed
Yellow ribbons, some regrets,
Letters stained from far away
Desert storm, have you gone away ?

Conclusion: Keeping in mind the 6000 years of recorded history,
the less then 300 years of recorded peace, and realizing how technology has grown over the last 45 years,
I go to what the next way may be,
but it starts with a question.

Flags were raised
Just half the way ?
The biggest bombs now sit in place.
Who knows the day
When they will say,
Was there a flag that won?


I don't pretend to be a poet myself ... or the judge of others poetry. What was and is important to me is .... there was a man ... standing by the side of the road ... who has had experiences ... that caused him to be there that day ... to write a poem ... to pass it out ... to hand it through the window of a passing car.

Won't you help me, and that man, to break down the wall that seperates me, and we, and him, and them ... and causes us to go to war.

Reply EMail


From: Gale Green
To: rkennedy@socool.com
Subject: Found by the Side of the Road

You were truly blessed to have passed the poet's path that day. I am the Grandaughter of a WWI, and WWII vet, the daughter of a Korean War vet, and the wife of a Vietnam vet and I have always felt honor for the thousands of human sacrifices that others have made for me. While I may not always hold in such high regard my country or my government..I will always honor the men and women who make such immeasurable sacrifices. Thank you for sharing your findings on the side of the road.
Thank you Gale ...
For your warm response to SoCoOL ... Sonoma County ONLINE ... and "Found By The Side of The Road"

You know, I knew that I was blessed. The moment it happened I knew that this was another "visitation" from a "loving God." There is a feeling in the air, an inner empowerment that occurs ... and you know.

I have not cared for, or nurtured or promoted "Found By The Side of the Road." I don't have it referenced from many places that I know of. I've visited it once or twice, and now, thanks to you, revisited it again. It's power grows.

I'm still waiting for the day when an EMail will arrive from Jim Bean, telling me of a friend who told him about his piece, and the impact it's had on others.

I'm going to dress up Jim's page just a little bit now .... give it a couple of American Flags ... and perhaps a different background. I'm going to reprint your EMail, and my response, and I'm going to thank Jim, once again, for finding me "By The Side of The Road."

Congratulations .... you and I and Jim have just been awarded the AWESOME EMAIL AWARD !!!




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