Bittersweet Welcome Home

They come back to no fanfare

No parades

No cheering crowds

No ticker tape

Forgotten but for the relief of  their loved ones

Scars are not always etched in blood

So cuts are unseen and more debilitating to the flesh

They hide all they have seen and heard

The things that changed them

Smiling as they always do

Cordial though their language has become harsher

Colored with the profanity perfected through months living in squalor

They do not talk in details as they prefer to forget

Driving the pain and memories deep below consciousness

They pray them never to return

Their minds standing strong in defense of sanity

What do we say to them

What do we do for them

I’ve asked myself this a thousand times

Hold their hands

Embrace them

Love them more than you have ever loved them

Comfort them when they cry

Reassure them when they flinch

Hold them tight when dreams shatter their sleep

They are not who you knew before

Their lives have been forever changed

Engendered through terror and courage in the face of unknown enemies

We must be there for them

This is all I or anyone can do


~~ D. R. DiFrancesco ~~

A Hero’s Welcome

Homecoming celebration November 12, 2012 Ft. Carson, Colorado Springs, Colorado

By D. R. DiFrancesco


Welcome home,

To you and the 300 like you.


So long gone,

So many tears and worries it drew.


Now you are back,

Safe and warm in your nations arms.


Tears of joy,

Thankful you are away from terrors harm.


You left a boy,

But came back as a man.


Proud and strong,

A country grateful that you took a stand.


You’ve given freely,

Putting your life in harm’s way.


A willing volunteer,

On guard and ready to save the day.


You are a soldier,

Out of sight, but not out of mind.


We welcome you home,

With open arms, warm and wide and kind.


You are our son,

A mother and father’s pride and joy.


Grown into a hero,

No more a little boy.

In honor of our son’s return from a 9 month deployment in Afghanistan on November 12, 2012.  Welcome home son, we are so proud of you.  

Please remember those brave men and women proudly serving our nation and give thanks that they have volunteered to protect us.

Honor and Sacrifice

Army Command Sargent Major Kevin J. Griffin
Poem in memory of those killed Wednesday 8, August 2012
by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan
Army CSM Kevin J, Griffin
Air Force Major Walter D. Gray
Army Major Thomas E. Kennedy

By D. R. DiFrancesco

Another tour,

Another chance that I won’t go home,

A picture of my baby girl,

Another reminder of what I’ve left,

Another casualty of my sacrifice,

A lock of my loving wife’s hair,

Another night of restless sleep,

Another dream of holding her close,

Rockets screaming at 2 AM,

Another miss,

Another prayer thanking God,

I’m scared but I can’t allow it to show,

Another night of frayed nerves,

Another soldier can’t see my fear,

Too rattled to go back to sleep,

Another march dead tired,

Another struggle to push through the pain,

Today, the next of many, training our indigenous friends,

Another day of watching my back,

Another day working with people you can’t trust,

We didn’t see it coming,

Another blast,

Another vest laden suicide bomber,

I’m sorry,

There won’t be another day,

There won’t be another homecoming,

I won’t see my baby girl,

I won’t see my loving wife,

Just know that I love you,

And please…don’t ever forget me.

Forgotten Warriors

Rock covered armored vehicle
Children and adult villages pelt
the vehicles with rocks as they pass

By D. R. DiFrancesco

I don’t pretend to know the feelings of war,

I’ve never served,

Instead living the joy and sorrow,

Loneliness and homesickness through my son.


Here I sit in my easy chair,

TV tuned to CNN,

Disgusted that there is no coverage,

Do they even remember we are at war?


I remember every waking hour of the day,

Passing my sons empty room,

Left as a constant reminder that he’s far from home,

Living in squalor, among Camel Spiders and Taliban.


He wrote,

Finally I realize…

Everything here wants to kill us,

My eyes welled up with tears.


He’s his own man now,

No longer can his mother and I protect him,

Our trust must be placed in his training,

Relying on his bravery and strength.


This makes it no easier,

Weeks pass with no word,

Sadness and worry are all consuming,

Struggling to maintain sanity.


Then a brief call or message online,

All is well, could you send me a few things,

I need new boots, snacks, vitamins,

My God its hot here.


For just a few moments there is happiness,

Content that for now he is safe,

Then he is gone again,

No word for weeks.


Sitting in my easy chair,

Still no coverage on TV,

Certain that they have forgotten.

Praying for the next call.


Don’t worry,

I’m safe and doing well.





U.S. Army 4th Infantry Afghanistan

Sun blinds me,
Sweat blurs my vision,
Leaving me disadvantaged,
Reliance on the senses,
An inconvenient certainty.

Stride faltering,
Dustdevils swirl behind me,
Exhaustion clouds my mind,
I can’t think straight,
Thoughts congeal in random patterns.

Skin burns,
Ultraviolet rays scar me,
Dirt covered crimson,
Cringe to the touch,
Sundown brings little relief.

Feet blistered,
My boots, my next best friends fail me,
Rest, not an option,
I must keep advancing,
Being left behind, inconceivable.

Backpack strains me,
My worldly possessions contained within,
Life and death kept at bay,
Sustainence, munitions, reminders of home,
All I have to call my own.

Never complaining,
Unspoken duty of every man,
Doing what must be done,
Personal harm not considered,
The oath more hallowed than hallowed ground.

Honor me,
Honor me not for the sacrifice,
Honor me not for the blood I’ve shed,
Honor me not for the widow I left behind,
Instead honor me.

For my love of God and country.

Those Left At Home

By D. DiFrancesco

Are they ok?
Where are they?
Questions asked daily by parents of children
But they aren’t really children any more
Only to us.

A letter home
The occasional telephone call
Pictures and postcards
Somehow it isn’t enough to quell the fears
While serving in a land so far away.

We can’t hold them
We can’t advise them
We can’t comfort them
All we can do is worry about them
So Many more questions than answers.

The military says they will take care of them
They say they will try to bring them home safe
“Try” doesn’t make this any easier
But they can’t make such promises
No one can see into the future.

Parcels are sent regardless of cost
Trying to provide some comfort to them
Little things to remind them of home
A little thing to make us feel useful
Yet it doesn’t change anything.

This is what they chose to do
We swell with pride at the thought
We fly our flags and display our yellow ribbons
Small signs to the rest of the world of the their sacrifice
And our sacrifice.

They are a gift
Given to all of us to cherish
They pay the price for our freedom
They weren’t asked to, they weren’t told to
They give because it is their destiny.

Remember these heros in your prayers
Because you know them or someone like them
And because they deserve it and have earned it
This is the very least we can do
Don’t let their sacrifices be for naught.

The telephone rings
Our hearts skip a beat
Hello, is answered with an endless silence
Angst gives way to elation
Hi…Mom…Dad, its me.