25 March 2017

“Soldier” by George L. Skypeck

I had heard that this poem written by Vietnam disabled veteran George L. Skypeck (who after active duty, went back to earn a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from University of Massachusetts) is one of the most displayed poems among various museums and monuments not just in the US but across the world.

Saw it for the first time in Columbus airport, Ohio.

The words are:

“I was that which others did not
want to be.
I went where others feared to go,
and did what others failed to do.
I asked nothing from those who gave
nothing, and reluctantly accepted the
thought of eternal loneliness …
should I fail.
I have seen the face of terror; felt
the stinging cold of fear; and enjoyed
the sweet taste of a moment’s love.
I have cried, pained, and hoped …
but most of all, I have lived times others
would say were best forgotten.
At least someday I will be able to say
that I was proud of what I was … a soldier.”

-George L. Skypeck

Posted March 25, 2017 by Rajib Roy in category "Travelogs


  1. By Ron Williams on

    mY NON-PROFIT org. would like to use it to promote our cause to assist youth & vets.
    How would I get permission to use it?

  2. By Ashleigh O'Hara on

    I’m his granddaughter and he’s doing well. He’s so talented and it’s heartwarming to see others appreciate his work. ☺️✌

  3. By Robert on

    Very happy he is doing well,I am his cousin Robert,my oldest brother Joseph a Marine is in a home.They would come from Holyoke to visit my dad..God Bless them Skypecks.I have three sons to carry the last name..Robert

  4. By rajibroy (Post author) on

    It is so great to see so many of his family members on this post. A chance observation at an airport has led me to get to connected to some of George’s family members. Feels great!

  5. By Lee on

    My 1st husband Command Sergeant Major Danny Cline(deceased/agent orange 2004) used this poem at a graduation
    C1/19 Ft. SilL, OK. 2/28/1991. Just found a copy of his speech. Still intensely profound 38 years later.

  6. By Arelius Mayes Jr on

    AS an young NCO I receive a hand writing copy ( A Soldier ) in 1976 from Gen Willard Latham at Fort Benning Ga. I Had copies printed and for the last 20 years I present one to Soldier from Fort Carson Colorado to Maine. There is something about that poem that lift you up and if you read it more than one time the tears flow.

  7. By Rick Martin Co. B, 4/47th, 9th Infantry Division 1966-1968 on

    I have a copy of this in my Man Cave. I’ve had it up over 30 years and it still stirs my soul to read it.

  8. By Jlfruchtenicht@yahoo.com on

    Don’t remember when frist seen, but liked it

  9. By margaret mcinnes on

    i am an old friend of many years from Australia and have quite a few of his paintings I am trying to reply to an email he just sent me but having trouble getting it to go through, so will try again with my fingers crossed but will contact you if I don’t have any luck.

  10. By James Thurmond, US Army, 7/17th Cav, Vietnam, 1970-71 on

    I first saw this poem at my 7/17th Cav Army reunion a few years ago. In fact, at our fund raising auction, I purchased it and hung it on my home office wall. It resonates with me because it is true. It describes only 3% of the USA population who were soldiers, especially those who served in the combat arms. For this Christmas I have removed it from the wall so that I can gift it to our grandson who just completed basic training and is now in OCS at Fort Benning. He is now “a soldier”.

    1. By Sharyn Mackenzie on


      I am writing from Australia and we are about to hold an Acknowledgement Service commemorating the 50th Anniversary of our troops from Vietnam
      I have seen a beautiful poem on a Memorial in a small country town. On the web it says it was written by George L Skypeck but is written fro Australian Veterans for sure
      Was the character of my valour less intense than those at BEERSHEBA ?
      Was the pain of my wounds any less Severe than those at GALLIPOLI?
      And, was my loneliness any less sorrowful Than those at TOBRUK?
      Then why am I forgotten amongst those Remembered as heroes?
      George L Skypeck
      So poignant! 🙁 Am I able please to use it as part of our service?

  11. By Kevin morton on

    I had a calendar with the poam, it had a picture of a soldier carrying a m60 machine gun. (I carried the m60 in the 70s us army) I wish I would kept the calendar. But the poam says it all about the u s. Soldier

  12. By James M Butler on

    Hi, how can I get a copy of this to hang on my wall???

    1. By Rajib Roy (Post author) on

      In what shape and form are you looking for this? You can take the picture from my website – it is public. The If you want it is text form, it is available too – I can send it. If any other form, you can write to his granddaughter Ashleigh O’Hara. She has commented above. If you reply to her, she should get a copy.
      Hope this helps.

  13. By SGM Stephen Croft, US Army (Retired) on

    I was assigned to D Company, 168th Engineer Bn (C), 1967-1968 (RVN). I had this poem posted on my wall ever since I first discovered it more years ago than I care to remember. Many soldiers have asked about it, and all I could tell them you got to live it. Stand tall and be proud of being a Soldier (Sailor, Marine, Airman)!


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