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Only four days after September 11, 2001 I wrote"I Held The Flag Today." I was invited to read it at the
first candlelight ceremony near the crash site for the victims of United Flight 93 in Western Pennsylvania only 13 days after 9/11. It soon became America's 9/11 poem for it was published and/or aired on newspapers, magazines, the Internet, TV and radio all over America. For more than a year it became the most requested and published poem in the country. It is included in both of my patriotic books:  I Held The Flag Today and More Words of Patriotism. I have selected a few for this website  for your edification
"If I Should Come Home To Dover" is a  dreaded question all of our military ponder in harms way. I wrote that poem in November of 2003. It is still timely today as we continue to lose our patriotic heroes in Afghanistan.
" I Watched Them Go" was transposed into a song and sung at a concert at Pittsburg State University in Kansas. "I Held The Flag Today" became the most requested poem in the country after reciting it at the first candlelight ceremony near the crash site for the victims of United Flight 93 in Western Pennsylvania only 13 days after 9/11.
"I Watched Them Go" was transposed into a song and sung at a concert at Pittsburg State University in Kansas.
You can see it on video. I am proud to say it received a standing ovation.
"A Moving Epitaph" was featured at the opening ceremony for the traveling Viet Nam Wall That Heals in the Fall of 2010 in  Blue Springs, Mo. And at all the Wall events in North Kansas City in the summer of 2012. You can hear the actual poem as it was aired on local radio stations in Kansas City, Mo.
There are many others but the latest one, a video poem entitled "Please Play Taps for Me,  which I read at a local VFW Memorial Day ceremony in Lee's Summit, Missouri in 2011. It was placed on YouTube and  has been deeply felt by thousands across the country, so much so that a movement is underway to have it read nationally next Memorial Day.  Read more about the movement and see the video by clicking on the tab "Please Play Taps for Me" on this website. Then come back and enjoy these poems.
With deep appreciation,
Jerry Plantz.
              If I Should Come Home to Dover

If I should come home to Dover amid the military pomp,
And long before I become a minute footnote in time,
I want my country to know that:
I believed in all those patriotic mottos, songs and slogans.
I voluntarily raised my hand to join brothers-in-arms.
I trained with apprehension knowing that someday
Role-playing would revolve into reality.
I savored every strain and hardship
That I endured with my new fraternity of friends.
Those friends came from a myriad of great American counties.
My comrades validated my life.
They were part of my family.
They knew of my blood family.
They shared all of my memories and letters from home.
They joined with my brother who is weaving his way through life in an
All-American high school in an All-American city.
They felt my sister’s joy in her anticipation of impending married life.
They understood my dad’s tears of pride from his military days,
And of his generation.
They smiled and cried with my mom, who, as all moms silently do,
bite their lips, pray and ask-Why?
If I should come home to Dover, I want my country to know that
I am at peace with my God.
I loved my country.
Even its imperfections among all its blessed greatness.
I had no regrets.
I know “What ifs” are irrelevant.
I sacrificed without reservation.
We all did.
Our families will grieve for us and our country will mourn.
They will ply us with ribbons, medals, and soothing words of valor,
From the greatest tribute, to a loved one’s tears, to a simple “Thank you!”
Our souls nod in humble acceptance.
I am coming home to Dover with others along side of me.
Our silent request beneath these flags and flowers
Is for you to celebrate - living, and that precious gift of freedom.
We have bequeathed that to you.
And when there is time, take a moment to remember,
Always remember,
We fought for those American mottos, songs and slogans,
We did it for our comrades and country,
We did it for our families.
We did it for you.
We hope you believe in them too.

A Moving Epitaph....A monument that reminds the nation of all those we lost in Viet Nam and asks
the living veterans to forgive us for the way we treated them upon their return.


There it is.
This visitor of granite.
This symbol of us
Here in the present
Binding us to the past.
Polished and gleaming.
Reflecting life,
Honoring death.
Even as a replica
It begs to be touched.
By remorseful hands.
It was created for embrace,
To sense, to summon forth
Our deepest thoughts,
And sorrowful emotions.

There it is.
A messenger of love,
A messenger of peace,
We with bowed heads
Burdened with the yoke of guilt
And ignorant denunciation
Plead for forgiveness.
From every
Name after name, after name, after name.
Column after column, after column, after column.
We wrongly echoed
Shame after shame, after shame, after shame.
Now quivering lips and heavy hearts
For every name, after name, after name, after name.
Column, after column, after column, after column.

There it is.
Here am I
And where are you?
You, who still walks in the shadow of indifference,
You, where gratitude does not reside.
You, whose ears fail to hear
The words of valor and sacrifice.
You, who somehow believe
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness
Are entitlements.
And not bequeathed to you
By those heroes upon that wall.
Or on those thankful  memorials
Throughout this bountiful land.
And under tombstones, flowers and flags.

There it is.
History upon a wall.
As I humbly stand before it
Effervescing with indebtedness,
Beaming with pride.
Words fail me
But my tears do not.
My fingers sense your being
Your dedication and devotion
To your country, my country.
And a life lost too soon.
Your epitaph lives on
In this replica
And on Washington’s sacred soil.
Where the encomium never ends.

There it is.
Not saturnine
Or  inanimate
But sanguine and living.
Generations from now
None will remember me.
But to you, burnished on that wall
Of granite and blood.
Who fought in Viet Nam
You name glows.
And to you living veterans
Who hid your honored uniforms
In cellars and closets.
It is time to salute your brethren
By proudly saying - I was there.

There it is.
A moving epitaph.
Of column after column, after column, after column..
Still space remains for those
Still unknown.
As you lie in graves of heroes
Take comfort in that
Someone always remembers,
Someone always makes it right,
And we did
In a monumental way.
To veterans living and veterans dead.
Thank you and welcome home.
Every name after name, after name, after name.
Every column, after column, after column, after column


I Held The Flag Today

I held the flag today,
It’s been awhile, and it’s not my style
But I touched it where it lay.
It’s been in a drawer, it’s been in a war
That took my dad away.
It brought back tears of grieving years
From that military day.
I remember the shoot - the gun salute
And I saw my mother pray.

I held the flag today,
Mom nearly collapsed when they began the taps
For it took her breath away.
It was solemn and sad and she thought of my dad,
Yet a smile broke through her dismay.
As they folded the banner in a reverent manner
My mom began to sway.
As they presented it to her- her mind was a blur
As she held the flag that day.

I held the flag today,
Thinking of mom, in that great beyond,
Now I’m proud to say
I reclaim my land and pledge this hand
To honor and obey.
As my countrymen die ashamed am I
Before I could allay
All of the doubt I harbored throughout,
For I’ve been sympathy’s prey.

I held the flag today,
When the New York sky was terror most high
And our Capitol was in disarray.
Yet over a rural field heroes didn’t yield
And caused their plane to stray.
As our eyes were locked as we gazed in shock
When the towers suddenly gave way.
Then those heroes in strife searching for life,
Their spirit had something to say.

I held the flag today,
As our nation reached out to help pull them out,
For that’s our American way.
To see our leaders react and vowed to attack
And that someone is going to pay.
I felt its fiber and thread, its living and dead
And I could hear it say
If we forget we’ll always regret
Until our dying day.

I displayed the flag today,
It’s flying aloft that beautiful cloth,
Ready for the fray.
Whomever the foe, they’ll reap what they sow
Starting from today.
I’m humble and proud and I say it aloud,
I’m an American-come what may.

Are you guys ready? Let’s roll!

                    I Watched Them Go

This poem was transposed to a choral arrangement by conductor Brian Hargrave and performed in concert by the Pittsburg State University Chorale, October 29, 2004 in Pittsburg, Kansas. It received a standing ovation.

I watched with sorrow
I watched with woe
I bit my lip
As I watched them go.

Yesterday they answered the role
Of  various occupations
Now they’re on a list
To join with other nations.

There they are, there am I
Anxieties build and mount
Fearing to let go
Making every second count.

I am here to wish them well
I know nary a one
Yet I know all of them
Mother, father, daughter son.

It wasn’t long ago
With tears in our eyes
We stood on these docks
Gasping with sighs.

I held my husband’s hand
I gazed into his heart
I felt our wedding vows
Until death do us part.

I pray the sorrows of tomorrow
May never surpass
The pains of the present
And the burdens of the past.

And from the ship that call
The call to assemble
I know it all too well
As tender hearts tremble.

Every depth of sorrow
Lingers as they tearfully disband
Even the smallest infant
Senses a trembling hand.

Like leaves in deepest Autumn
Which reluctantly let go
To join their scattered brethren
On the grass and streets below.

No one moves as the vessel sails
On that sea of reality
Carrying that precious cargo
Into a storm of finality.

Where is history taking them?
Who among them shall return?
What will we have garnered?
What will we have learned?

Those questions reverberate
From one generation to another
I lost my dearest husband
And I will love no other.

We, they, you bear a sacrifice
In our own patriotic way.
Yet saying good bye, perhaps forever
Are the saddest words we’ll say.

I watched with sorrow
I watched with woe
I bit my lip
As I watched them go.