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I can only see modesty.  A character trait owned by people who serve their country.  A young man’s life comes to an abrupt end and the only reference to a life lost is, “when I died, they washed me out of the turret with a hose”.  So powerful is the modesty I perceive.

In this short poem by Randall Jarrell, a World War II turret gunner was gunned down by enemy warfare. As stated in the third sentence, “Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life, I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters. When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.” The last verse is just so matter of fact.   Absent of emotion or tears.  These are the unsung heroes. 

However, they don’t want to be called heroes. To us, they are heroes.  For them, it’s their promise to protect and promise to fight the enemy.  Faced with death and danger, the likelihood their life will not be fully lived is very real. 

Four condensed sentences describe the short life of this young soldier. His chances to live as an adult were gone instantaneously; “loosed from its dream of life.”  Transformation from the safety of his mother’s womb to soldier came quickly as stated in this verse; “From my mother’s sleep I fell into state.” Fell into the state of war before he even lived life.   The turret is his womb as stated; “and I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze”.

While hunched and sleeping in its belly, he woke only to see life flash before him, “Loosed from its dream of life, I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.” His short journey of life was from his mother’s womb, to the states womb, to death.

“They washed me out of the turret with a hose.” How did they know it was him otherwise? The sole remaining proof is probably his dog tags.  

Significant is the message of a baby in a mother’s womb, transforming into a young man now in the State’s womb, once again transforming into his duty’s womb, the turret and finally dying in its womb. 

“Loosed from its dream of life”, “they washed me out of the turret with a hose.” Evidence of life never lived. The turret womb succumbed to death by the miscarriage of war.

The womb can only be washed down with a hose after a miscarriage such is the case when a mother miscarries.       

The heroes of war fight for their country with modesty and bravery.  Traits one can only be born with.  In my eyes, this short poem signifies the modesty and humility of this soldier.  Soldiers possess bravery during life and modesty at death.

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