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At Kennesaw Mountain

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  • At Kennesaw Mountain

    At Kennesaw Mountain
    Jack Ballard, Jr.

    Azure sky o’er the dead
    Whose heaven-borne spirits now have fled
    Through the dark valley of David’s dread
    To judgment now they came.
    The brightness of the humid haze,
    No different in the ancient days
    Of battle scars, when towns were razed
    And so I walk the same.
    Even now, the ravaged scar
    Of local conflict, distant war:
    The land recalls when battles marred
    The forests filled with flame.
    Some walk in solitude with me
    Whose bones wait passive under knee.
    Braving the charge, in terror flee
    The enemy, they are the same:
    For dead and dead are much alike,
    As Solomon in wisdom writes,
    And Paul whose adage was the fight
    Fought good, and finishing the race.
    The ghosts lie prostrate in the land
    While I cross where berms were planned
    As monuments to great last stands
    And retreats tinged with shame.
    Cannons cross at the Dead Angle,
    Where North and South were once entangled
    And Southern hope was slowly strangled.
    When the Union won the game,
    Then North some rode with memories
    To darken homes and lives of ease.
    Some left limb and black disease
    To wander, lasting lame.
    Others lie to slowly molder
    ‘Mong the trees and lonely boulder
    Forgotten naught by fellow soldier.
    Men have fought for enforced claim,
    For various and lofty goals
    In these tests of timeless souls
    To rise above or fall below.
    The trials that men entertain
    Are high in any of life’s age.
    But the crucible of battle rage
    Is more intense and thus the stage
    Defines the man: who he became.
    Such purpose is beyond our ken
    But higher still is praise to men
    To whom God utters, “Well done, friend”
    For glory and eternal fame.