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by James Sparrow

Glasses clink, with arms held high
A midnight toast
"Here's to the best there ever was, and those of us that are left".

We were still young but old beyond our years
for we had walked in the footsteps of giants

Now we gathered --to see-hear-touch-- The Names!
To dedicate-- consecrate
Our name ladened marble memorial

For 3 days before
A vigil we held
by the light of candles
In the National Cathedral

From the altar
Read aloud
Names-- 57,939

More than 100 of us read the Names

Friends and family members
from thousands of miles away
They came to hear the names
The name of a buddy--brother--lover--son--husband

It was my turn
In the evening of the second day
To read aloud

Every pew-- full
Standing room only
A solemn task

I knelt on the altar
A velvet pillow-- beneath my knees
A sea of faces-- assembled before me

523 names
I read aloud
The first was Kosakowski, Gerald A.
The last was Lahna, Gary W.

I read a name and receive a reaction
from soft murmurs
to hysterical pain

I became those names
all 523
Koo-he-e-nooe, Moses I.
Kos-ko-vich, Michael L.

Each Name opening wide the mind's eye of memory
Of who they were and who they could have been

A man in a wheelchair
Medal of Honor
gracing his neck

With the sound of some names
Flowers were dropped at my knees

Mothers kissed me
Fathers touched me
Sisters and lovers hugged me

Brothers and buddies-- shook me

Kranz Jr., William F.
His Mother stopped me
When she heard his name
Tears in her eyes-- with a simple request
My signature next to his name
I humbly oblige

Teardrops from hundreds of eyes
Tug at my soul
My mind is flooded
with the pain
of so many Names

We are one!!

Our souls-- stitched
tightly together with
the thick twine
of shared experience

We dedicate
in a moment of silence
then a surging forth
in a search for names

It's done --it's there
for all the world to see--hear--touch
The Names

The foregoing is an excerpt from Mr. Sparrow's poem Names. To read the unabridged edition, click here. --egh

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Document last modified on: 02/12/1998

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