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I saw active service in conventional, clandestine and covert units of the South African Defence Force. I was the founder of the Private Military Company (PMC) Executive Outcomes in 1989 and its chairman until I left in 1997. Until its closure in 1998, EO operated primarily in Africa helping African governments that had been abandoned by the West and were facing threats from insurgencies, terrorism and organised crime. EO also operated in South America and the Far East. I believe that only Africans (Black and White) can truly solve Africa’s problems. I was appointed Chairman of STTEP International in 2009 and also lecture at military colleges and universities in Africa on defence, intelligence and security issues. Prior to the STTEP International appointment, I served as an independent politico-military advisor to several African governments. I am a contributor to The Counter Terrorist magazine. All comments in line with the topics on this blog are welcome. As I consider this to be a serious look at military and security matters, foul language and political or religious debates will not be entertained on this blog.

Friday, November 21, 2008

“I DID NOT DIE”

Rummaging through my papers the other day, I found a piece of paper I had saved many years ago. Taken from the magazine Army, dated May 1978, I have kept if for all these years as it made a huge impact on me as a young soldier. It still does every time I read it:

Do not stand at my grave and weep:
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am a diamond glint on snow,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the autumn rain.
When you awake in the morning hush,
I am the swift, uplifting rush
Of birds circling in flight.
I am the stars that shine at night.
So do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there – I did not die.

From the accompanying sidebar:

“The author was believed to have been a member of the 4th Infantry Division (Mech), which at the time the verse was penned was in heavy action in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. His words were prophetic because shortly after they appeared in a unit newspaper he was killed.

Who he was and how he died is not known. There was a name, once, produced at the editor’s request by a division which had more important things to do. It, too, has been lost.

Some day…

For now, thank you soldier, whoever you were. You have given more meaning to Memorial Day than I could have… LBJ”

8 comments:

Loggi said...

Very deep Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Indeed, Loggi.

He of difficult days said...

weird...

I read this somewhere, where it was claimed that it was penned by a British soldier K.I.A against the IRA.

Sheesh...

You cant believe everything you read these days in the media

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I know...I have read several claims regarding where it came from. My source, as mentioned, was from the US Army magazine in 1978.

Regadless of who wrote it and when, it remains a very powerful piece to me.

Rgds,

Eeben

Dark Raven said...

I like it, it is very beautiful.
But I still like this one more..

"Step forward now, you soldier, how shall I deal with you? Have you always turned the other cheek? To My Church have you been true?"

The soldier squared his shoulders and said, "No, Lord, I guess I haven’t, because those of us who carry guns, Can't always be a saint.

I've had to work most Sundays, and at times my talk was tough. And sometimes I've been violent, because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny, that wasn't mine to keep...

Though I worked a lot of overtime, when the bills got just too steep.

And I never passed a cry for help, though at times I shook with fear. And sometimes, God, forgive me, I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place, among the people here.

They never wanted me around, except to calm their fears.

If you've a place for me here, Lord, It needn't be so grand. I never expected or had too much, but if you don't, I'll understand."

There was a silence all around the throne, where the saints had often trod. As the soldier waited quietly for the judgment of his God.

"Step forward now, you soldier, you’ve borne your burdens well. Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets; you’ve done your time in Hell."

~Author Unknown~

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thank you, Dark Raven. It is very good.

Rgds,

Eeben

Fuzzy Lojic said...

Quite haunting reading. Btw I discovered your book is available on Kalahari.net (love those 1 day deliveries) and Take2 is out of stock (as usual).. Any plans for another instalment?

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I am busy with a book on the CCB and in particular on the region I commanded, Region 5 (Europe and Middle East). However, I have no idea when I will be ready for publishing it.

Rgds,

Eeben