I would like to quote a poem from a book I read years ago that made a huge impact in my life and instilled in me the truth that despite whatever horrible conditions one may face in life, one must hunger and desire to continue to survive no matter what and that this is glorifying to God. I read this book while on operations near Fort Pickett with Weapons Co. 3rd Battalion 6th Marine Regiment. While I was reading it one night, and after we had completed operations one day, a lieutenant came up to me and comented on what an impact the book had made in his life. It is a very powerful true story about a prisoner of war in Vietnam who forced himself to eat and survive while others died around him for 5 long years. The book is called Five Years To Freedom and he wrote this poem while in the Nam Can Region. He was suffering from dysentery and severe fungus infection. He said he dreamed it one night:
When all outside and round about,
is crushing, pushing, crowding down;
The air itself is filthy, dirty,
the outer shell corrupt, unclean.
From deep within, a voice rings through:
"Be calm, be still and carry on;
For I am untouched by all mundane,
and so forever shall I be.
For I am God's and thy shell is God's;
Together, we form thee;
Thy shell is clay and will be dust,
but I am eternal.
You and I, we travel far; through birth and life,
through mortal death and life hereafter;
What happens now, in time will pass,
and memory, like your shell itself, cannot last.
So look up ahead at times to come,
despair is not for us;
We have a world and more to see,
while this remains behind."
- James N. Rowe (He wrote this as a Lieutenant and while surviving Vietnam he was later gunned down in the Philipines in 1989 as he was trying to get information back to Washington that he and another were targets of assassins. He was trying to penetrate the communist insurgency at the time, which was the NPA, New Peoples Army.)