|Harry dishes out chili for a guest at one of his annual office Christmas parties. A co-worker made the chili each year, and I've been told it was the highlight of the party. Many in the Pentagon regularly attended, as well as out-of-towners.|
Several people who follow this blog knew Harry from the Pentagon. So you folks may remember his annual Christmas parties -- and his "Season's Greetings" poems to the Department of Defense. He wrote the poem below three years before he retired from government. It was the same winter I brought my 13-month-old daughter to his office Christmas party. And, it was there she took her first steps without holding on!
I’ve come across Harry’s “Season’s Greetings” poems from many other years, too; I selected 1983 because the sentiments are timeless.
My friends, our greetings every year,
Are all designed to bring good cheer,
Replete with names of folks we know,
The ones who make the system go.
But friends, this year is somehow different,
Names alone are not sufficient.
|Harry was crowned "Pentagon Poet Laureate"|
Reflecting on the global scene,
Events in 1983 upset our equanimity.
So this year’s greetings are directed
At events and those affected,
With names deserving special mention
That we’ll bring to your attention.
First and foremost, let us pray,
For those who serve the U.S.A.,
Let’s support with all our means,
Our United States Marines.
P.X. Kelley and the rest
Are among our very best.
A memory we’ll always keep,
|And crowned again ...|
With all our deepest sympathy
To members of each family.
Every sweetheart, wife and mother,
Every sister, father, brother.
Hold fast and firm to this belief,
Our nation shares your common grief
For those young men who gave their all
In answer to their country’s call.
And Army Ranger personnel,
Those who fought and those who fell.
Their purpose and their mission clear
To all but those who will not hear.
Our hearts go out to them and theirs,
Our thoughts, our tears, our daily prayers,
|... And again|
Won’t be forgotten, this we pledge.
And those who criticize and carp
So righteously (without a harp),
Should bear in mind the attitude
Of students, and their gratitude,
So now’s the time to rally round
The only Commander-in-Chief in town!
To all our Navy personnel,
Who do their jobs so very well,
Our country owes a massive debt,
Though some don’t realize this yet.
On, above, beneath the sea,
They help to keep our nation free.
Away from home for so much time,
Throughout the world, in every clime,
And their appearance, anywhere,
Signifies our presence there.
To all our Air Force people, too,
With all the jobs they have to do,
|Gen. Powell attended Harry's parties, too.|
Or tend the missiles underground,
We owe much more than we can pay,
So let’s remember that each day,
And hope for progress every year
In safeguarding our “high frontier.”
These armed forces all together,
Geared to go in any weather,
Ready, able, day or night,
Are a symbol of our might,
All on duty, constantly,
Deterring any enemy,
By their presence, they assure
That our country stays secure.
To all the leaders of these forces,
Those who are “official sources,”
Let’s not sell these people short,
They deserve our best support.
For the Navy’s John Lehman,
(The sharpest, you know)
And Admiral Watkins,
A great CNO,
The ships and the subs and the aircraft to meet
The needed improvements in strength of the fleet.
For the Army’s John Marsh
(He’s the best at this craft)
And General Wickham,
The new Chief of Staff.
The brigades and divisions, equipment and stuff,
With training sufficient to keep the troops tough.
For Verne Orr of the Air Force
(A quality guy),
And Gabriel, Charlie,
|Advising Secretary Cap Weinberger?|
The weapons and systems to keep us apace
Of our mission to fight in the air and in space.
For JCS Chairman, General Vessey,
An organization not so messy,
With the power to make a hard decision,
And make his mark as a man of vision,
Persuasive and backed by rational reasons,
He is the Pentagon’s man for all seasons.
And last but not least,
For the DOD leaders,
From all of our viewers and writers and readers,
For Weinberger, Cap, and his Deputy, Thayer,
We offer a very fervent prayer,
May they both have the courage and wisdom and sense,
To know when to jump or to straddle the fence,
May they talk to the Congress, the public, the press,
And convince them which courses of action to bless,
May the policies that they both devise
Be cautiously bold and very wise,
And may they retain their honor and pride,
With the Forces of freedom at their side.
Now let’s turn our backs on ’83,
It taught us a little humility,
And let’s look forward to ’84,
Whatever the future has in store,
Of this we are certain as we can be,
That ours is still the land of the free,
Let’s pray that all hostilities cease,
And that God grant this world a measure of peace!