Reprinted with permission from the Scuttlebutt, Volume 6, Number 10, 20 May 2021, Carl Snow, Editor
To the Men Who Fly
Ralph G. Fallert was a WWII Navy Seabee. We presented his poem titled Scuttlebutt in our 16 July 2020 issue. The following verse was written overseas during World War II, while he was with the Seabees, briefly on American Samoa and then for a longer time on Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides. Following Espiritu came a period of about a year back in the States, then transfer to Armed Forces Radio Service and again assignment overseas—this time on Iwo Jima.
A graduate of Duquesne University and native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Mr. Fallert spent 40 more years in broadcasting, including 18 years as an announcer on radio and 19 years on TV stations in Pittsburgh. We’re presenting another piece—one of the few serious ones he wrote during his active-duty service, To the Men Who Fly. His daughter, Christine Fallert Kessides, has consented to let us reproduce his poem.
Dedicated to the Airmen of World War II
You who tread the Milky Way
And traffic with the stars
Have wrought a bitter beauty
In the cruel face of Mars.
You loose the pennants of the soul
Against the wind and sky,
And live the ancient dream of all
Who ever yearned to fly.
You know the feel of freedom
We covet in the birds –
Like thought released forever
From the fettering of words.
You wheel about the courtyards
Of castles in the air,
From whose great cloudy battlements
The earth seems twice as fair.
You soar into the sunset,
Are one with the stars at night,
And we stare unbelieving
At the miracle of flight.
From trammeling of earth you soar
To the purity of space
Where the soul drinks in a freshness
Like a breeze upon the face.
You bear aloft a thousand hearts
As singers do with songs,
And make it seem that far from earth
Is where the heart belongs.
But not for now the beauty,
Not for now the joy,
For now your skills are focused
To punish and destroy.
But soon we pray is coming
The peace for which we thirst,
And of those who’ve earned its blessings
You stand among the first!
Copyright 1989 by Ralph G. Fallert (b. 1914 d. 2002.) By permission of Christine Fallert Kessides.