In Memory of a Plain Dealer

In Memory of a Plain Dealer

for Edward Joseph Nilges, Captain, United States Army, 442 Regimental Combat Team, b 1915 d 1945 in action in northern Italy:

Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine,
et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Te decet hymnus Deus, in Sion,
et tibi reddetur votum in Ierusalem.
Exaudi orationem meam;
ad te omnis caro veniet.
Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine,
et lux perpetua luceat eis.

He didn’t seem to care that he was unknown
In the Plain Dealer his courage was shown:
In words without embellishment
It was said he died for his country without sentiment.

I like to think he made a point of smiling
Gently telling the brave Japanese men
Time to go to weal or woe,
Or to your Asian palace of jade and silence:
Those Germans aren’t going away
Not dug in like that, oh no, not today.

I like to think he read the field manual
Out of curiosity and boredom,
And underlined the part where it said,
If it said, if it read
A United States Officer under a certain rank
Shall think of his men before himself.
Generals and Colonels may think of masses of asses
Pushed by Waves on a board in a bunker,
But a Captain shall Captain (oh my Captain) his men’s souls,
And find peace leaving Paris
Headed back to his home in Hell
Where the Goths they hold the line
In weather unusually fine.

And so smiling, perhaps, he folded his life up like the flag
That is handed to the widow at the time of ash
By wounded men who wounded were sent
To condignly dignify sentiment,
And put questions, like his body, to rest.

Oh the flag, oh yes, the flag
He folded his life’s flag carefully
So close to the Arno did his blood flow,
Arno’s flood he knew from reading Dante in Catholic school.

Carefully, but for him, there was no widow
Just a woman wondering why
She could not cry,
Listening to his favorite Beethoven symphony on NBC after the rain.

Edward G. Nilges amdg 6 March 2010


3 Responses to “In Memory of a Plain Dealer”

  1. Rick Nilges Says:


    Just read the beautiful ode to our uncle. I’ll read it to Dad later today. Too bad I can’t remember enough of my St. Viator Latin to translate the first part. Thanks.


  2. R G Nilges Says:


    Thanks for the beautiful poem about Uncle Edward. I cried when Rick read it to me. I shall remember these sentiments for the rest of my life.


  3. spinoza1111 Says:

    Thanks, Rick and Dad.

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