Society of the 9th Infantry Division

The Home of the SONID Poet Laureate:
Michael Marks -

As for who I am, well, the best I can lay claim to is a very patriotic and thankful American. I was a twelve year old when Vietnam ended, I turned eighteen in the midst of Carter dismantling our Armed Forces. I turned out to be the kid that every soldier fought and bled for, the "kid who could grow up in peace". It has been a gift that I did not earn nor deserve, and I fear that little in my life measures up to what was bought for me at so high a price. By the time Desert Storm rolled around I found that in terms of joining the military I was considered long in the tooth (I took the ASVAB and it said I should have been in the intelligence service, but they wanted younger guys with a longer shelf life!) So I just try to grab every chance I can to support our troops and, in a sense, watch their back here at home while they are away. I was very vocal in the election 2000 process when Al Gore suggested that military votes should not count-- if anybody in this nation should be given preference and easy access to the political process, it is those who stand and defend it. That sentiment was very strongly expressed in the last lines of A Soldier's Christmas:

"His eye welled with a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget
to fight for our rights back home while we're gone;
to stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
to know you remember we fought and we bled
is payment enough, and with that we will trust
that we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

I guess the bottom line is that I'm the guy who has made it his mission to make sure people remember. It's my watch-- not in the line of fire, not on some distant piece of sand, but it's the watch life dealt me and I intend to do it right. Small service, but it's the best I have to give.

Best regards,


Who Stands Alone
Contemporary - A reminder to our French "allies."

A Day to Remember
A celebration of Independence Day

I’ve Got Your Back!
A reminder of our children's service  

A Soldier's Christmas
We have all been there. The protected may not understand. We surely do understand. 

Who Stands Alone
Michael Marks

 Eleven thousand soldiers lay beneath the dirt and
stone, all buried on a distant land so far away from home.
For just a strip of dismal beach they paid a hero's price,
to save a foreign nation they all made the sacrifice.

Web-MM-normandy2.jpg (27018 bytes)

 And now the shores of Normandy are lined with blocks of
white, Americans who didn't turn from someone else's plight.
Eleven thousand reasons for the French to take our side,
but in the moment of our need, they chose to run and hide.

 Chirac said every war means loss, perhaps for France that's
true, for they've lost every battle since the days of Waterloo.
Without a soldier worth a damn to be found in the region,
the French became the only land to need a Foreign Legion.

 You French all say we're arrogant. Well hell, we've earned the right--
We saved your sorry nation when you lacked the guts to fight.
But now you've made a big mistake, and one that you'll regret;
you took sides with our enemies, and that we won't forget.

 It wasn't just our citizens you spit on when you turned,
but every one of ours who fell the day the towers burned.
You spit upon our soldiers, on our pilots and Marines,
and now you'll get a little sense of just what payback means.

 So keep your Paris fashions and your wine and your champagne,
and find some other market that will buy your aeroplanes.
And try to find somebody else to wear your French cologne,
for you're about to find out what it means to stand alone.

 You see, you need us far more than we ever needed you.
America has better friends who know how to be true.
I'd rather stand with warriors who have the will and might,
than huddle in the dark with those whose only flag is white.

 I'll take the Brits, the Aussies, the Israelis and the rest,
for when it comes to valor we have seen that they're the best.
We'll count on one another as we face a moment dire,
while you sit on the sideline with a sign "friendship for hire."

 We'll win this war without you and we'll total up the cost,
and take it from your foreign aid, and then you'll feel the loss.
And when your nation starts to fall, well Frenchie, you can spare us
 just call the Germans for a hand, they know the way to Paris.

A Day to Remember
Michael Marks

In crimson hue the missiles flew and cracked the sky asunder,
while mortars tolled, explosions rolled and shook the ground like thunder.
Yet in the midst of rockets roar a figure stood alone,
a grizzled sergeant gazing on the field with eyes of stone.

He'd heard before the mortars roar in jungles far away,
and left his blood there in the mud where fallen comrades lay.
And when it seemed the gates of hell itself had opened wide,
when every fiber of his being had screamed to run and hide,
he held his ground and duty bound to country and to Corps
he faced the final sacrifice as many had before.

A sudden movement in the night broke through his reverie,
to drive away old memories he'd just as soon not see.
On trembling legs a breathless figure dashed across the street
collapsing on the ground before the grizzled sergeant's feet.

"Oh Grandpa did you see 'em?" asked the boy with shining eyes,
"the fireworks are really cool, they almost fill the skies!"
The sergeant smiled and hugged the boy, a moment most sublime.
"You bet I did" the sergeant said, "I've seen them many times."

Then with a kiss on Grandpa's cheek he jumped and dashed away.
Returning to the magic that was Independence Day.
And with a gentle sigh the sergeant, flanked on either side
by sons and daughters, hugged his wife, now thirty years his bride.

He raised his eyes to heaven where the flag now proudly flew,
majestic in her billowing of red and white and blue.
With hand upon his brow he stood once more in proud salute,
His love for God and Country ever strong and absolute.

And thinking back upon those nights so full of pain and fear,
when locked in mortal combat he was sure his end was near;
He said a prayer of thanks that God had seen to pull them through
And given him a life that those who'd fallen never knew.

With humble heart he took his place with patriots of lore,
And shared an oath with every soldier that had gone before.
Should 'eer the call arise to stand for nation, God and friends...
He knew from deep within his heart he'd do it all again.


I’ve Got Your Back!

Author Unknown: Modified by Michael Marks at the request of  R. Coogan

 I am a small and precious child,
 My dad's been sent to fight.
 The only place I'll see his face
 Is in my dreams at night.
 He will be gone too many days
 For my young mind to keep track.
 I may be sad, but I am proud.
 My daddy's got your back.
  I am a caring mother.
 My son has gone to war.
 My mind is filled with worries
 That I have never known before.
 Everyday I try to keep
 My thoughts from turning black.
 I may be scared, but I am proud.
 My son has got your back.
 I am a strong and loving wife
 With a husband soon to go.
 There are times I'm terrified
 In a way most never know.
 I bite my lip and force a smile
 As I watch my husband pack.
 My heart may break, but I am proud.
 My husband's got your back.


I am a father and a combat veteran
My son will go to war.
I know the bitter taste of battle
A taste he’s not known before.
He will experience his “Baptism by Fire”
And I know he will be back.
But he will not be the son I know today.
My son’s got your back.
 I am a soldier,
 Serving proudly, standing tall.
 I fight for freedom, yours and mine
 By answering this call.
 I do my job while knowing the
 Thanks it may at times lack.
 Say a prayer that I'll come home
 It's me who's got your back!

Author unknown - modifications to the stanzas are in blue - thanks to Michael Marks upon my request. Dick Coogan

-Always Remember-


It is the soldier, not the reporter,
Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the soldier, not the poet,
Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the soldier, not the campus/political organizer,
Who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.

It is the soldier,
Who salutes our flag,
Who serves beneath our flag,
Whose coffin is draped by our flag,
Who allows the protester to burn our flag.

Father Denis Edward O'Brien, USMC


Freedom is NOT free!

A Soldier's Christmas
Michael Marks

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
my daughter beside me, angelic in rest.

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree, I believe,

completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep
in perfect contentment, or so it would seem.
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eye when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
and I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
"What are you doing?" I asked without fear
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts,
to the window that danced with a warm fire's light
then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night"

"Its my duty to stand at the front of the line,
that separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.

My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.

I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures; he's sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red white and blue... an American flag.

"I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home,
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat,
I can carry the weight of killing another
or lay down my life with my sisters and brothers
who stand at the front against any and all,
to insure for all time that this flag will not fall."

"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone.
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
to know you remember we fought and we bled
is payment enough, and with that we will trust.
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.

   Michael Marks
December 7th, 2000