T ransgender A merican
V eterans A ssociation

You had to be there.

You had to see the faces,
clench the hands,
feel the energy flowing out of everyone,
that unbelievable positive push of pure undistilled joy at being at that place
in that time,
knowing that you were part of a first,
part of history.
You had to be there.

To walk along the Wall,
black gash in the earth, mass grave,
name follows name in a roll-call of curtailed lives;
hopes, dreams, futures...
now nothing but words on a stone.
Touch the name of the one you lost,
and remember.
You had to be there.

To stand at the base of the statue,
hands of bronze clutching the flag,
raising it up, saying
"here we are and here we stay"
A silent shout of defiance
against all foes, forever.
You had to be there.

To walk among the graves,
row on row, always at attention,
soldiers to the last.
How many brothers? How many sisters?
How many that never knew the simple joy
of being their own true self?
How many more, when all is said and done?
The silent ranks, always increasing in number
wordlessly remonstrate us, never let us forget.
You had to be there.

For the snap of heels and the barked commands,
punctuating the reverent silence.
For the four chosen, two by two,
one last march, one last mission.
The wreath presented reverently,
an offering and a sacrifice.
Peace with the past, old wounds healed.
We were here, yes, and served gladly.
Remember us.
Remember us.

You had to be there.


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