Fighting soldiers from the sky
Fearless men who jump and die
Men who mean just what they say
The brave men of the Green Beret.
I was just two years old in 1966 when my oldest brother John brought home the 33 rpm album, The Ballad of the Green Beret by SSgt Barry Sadler. The album became a family favorite. My brother Barney was so taken by it, he had to have a Green Beret uniform and a Green Beret GI Joe.
I was too young at the time to understand that there was a war going on. Even as I got older, I didn't comprehend that hundreds of thousands of Americans were fighting in the jungles of Vietnam. I just thought it was a really neat song.
Silver wings upon their chest
These are men, America's best
One hundred men will test today
But only three win the Green Beret.
For four decades the ballad was played in our family home. As recently as a few years ago I walked into my mother's house to find her playing the music. One of my siblings had purchased it in CD form for her. I borrowed the CD and took it home for my kids to listen to.
Trained to live off nature's land
Trained in combat, hand-to-hand
Men who fight by night and day
Courage peak from the Green Beret.
SSG Mark Maierson, United States Army, Special Forces, a Green Beret, died March 13, 2009 during a training exercise in Florida. Today I had the honor of escorting the casket of this brave young man during his services at Fort Logan National Cemetery.
The Ballad of the Green Beret became more than just a song to me. I watched helplessly as his brave comrades struggled to contain their emotions as they carried the casket of their fallen brother. I knew that was a battle they could never train for, but "courage peak from the Green Beret."
Back at home a young wife waits
Her Green Beret has met his fate
He has died for those oppressed
Leaving her his last request.
Put silver wings on my son's chest
Make him one of America's best
He'll be a man they'll test one day
Have him win the Green Beret.
To his parents, I would like to say, "He was one of America's best, he won the Green Beret."
Lyrics from "Ballad of the Green Beret" by SSgt Barry Sadler and Robin Moore, Copyright 1966
Copyright 2009 Lorraine Melgosa