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By:  Ellis Pringle Craig

At Juno Beach an old man stands and limps down to the shore,
Where on this sand he crawled
and ran so many years before.
The skirl of pipes still in the air, the ceremony o’er,
He knows the ghosts who haunt this coast in the fading wake of war.

Huddled in their landing craft, together yet alone.,
Some join a cheer to quell the fear that turns young limbs to stone.
Others lost within the thought that chills them to the bone,
Not knowing if they’d see again the fields and hills of home.

A sudden stop, the ramp is dropped, and Juno is revealed.
Bullets frothing water, flying shards of red hot steel.
A thrown grenade, a shattered leg, his private war soon done,
Sheltered by a parapet,
prayed that the beach be won.

Young men who fell upon this beach who lie not far away
Are still young men among his ken, not having aged a day.
They gave their all when duty called, hair never turned to grey.
They grew not old as he grew old, no feeble steps for they.

For their lost years a wealth of tears, he’d been there yesterday,
Where snow-white stones mark where the bones of all the young men lay.
They cried hurrah! for Canada
and braved the gates of hell,
Now walking slowly down the beach he wanders where they fell.

Where chaos reigned and lives were claimed by death’s uneven hand,
The shore of war is quiet now, a peaceful stretch of sand.
Old vets in chairs with snow-white hair are wheeled down to the shore,
They are the ever dwindling few, soon there will be no more.

Some there among are the proud sons of those who fought before,
Believing they were there to win the war to end all wars.
But strife will always be our lot and war will have its day.
Silent prayers for those who dared with home so far away.

So once a year some come back here where many came before.
Warriors then, now ancient men who gather near the shore
To honour those who lie in rows, and comrades still beside.
A time to grieve and to receive a grateful nation’s pride.

They are the ever dwindling few,
Soon there will be no more.

Note:  Ellis Craig is a retired RCMP Superintendent, who began writing poetry and lyrics for songs in his 80’s.  Two of his songs are in our Music section:  “We are Canadian” and “Known Just to God and Me“.