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The Knock On The Door

The Knock On The Door
Notification of death of serviceman to loved ones and next of kin is a painful process.

“Sergeant, if you're ready,
You are to report,
To the C.A.C. so you can use
That training you were taught.
We want you down there right away
Make sure you're in dress blues,
You will meet the Chaplain there,
We've a Notification due!”

There are things about being in service
That the average soldier can hate,
Basic Training, and lack of leave
Can make signing up seem a mistake.
The endless rounds of inspections
Are really quite hard to endure,
As is saying farewell to your loved ones
When you're leaving to go on a tour.

Sometimes in the midst of live action
In a fire fight you see a pal fall,
You rush to assist or take cover
And it doesn't phase you at all.
You are trained to react in that moment
Second nature tells what must be done,
And though you don't like it one little bit
You stand your ground, you don't run.

The Sergeant jumped to it sharply,
He was trained and knew how to do it,
But the prospect always bothered him,
Every time he went through it.
Of all the requirements of duty
The task liked the least, and most grim,
Is delivering a Notification
To a comrade-in-arm's next of kin.

He prays on his way to the office
That the casualty's no one he knows,
That the next of kin on the roster is right,
That all is correct when he goes.
The briefing is done with the Chaplain
From the script they try to discern
How to prepare mentally to deliver
The worst news anybody can learn,

Life in the Army's not perfect,
In all things there's an Army Way,
And delivering the news of bereavement
Must be made in four hours, on the day!
You have to know where you are going,
You cannot be fumbling around,
You cannot ask at a neighbor's house
Or the news will be all over town.

You walk to the door and you check it
You look for a number and name,
Then check with the data you have on your sheet
And make sure that it is the same.
 “I am Sergeant Mikat. Are you...?
And here you state their name.
On assent you ask if you may come in,
And you watch as the colors all drain.

As likely as not when it opens
There's a wife with a babe on the floor
She's just twenty two and she looks at you,
And her soldier has gone to the war
She knows why you're here without speaking
Her heart is torn out of her chest
Her face shows pain and a disbelief
And now you must give it your best.

You don't say hello or good evening.
Simply state in a dignified way,
Your name and your rank with compassion
Then these are the words that you say.
“The Secretary of the Army
Expresses his deep regrets
That your ... beloved ....next of kin...
Has been killed, and is pronounced dead

You are the nightmare they'll remember
You will live long in their memory,
Every one knows that when two soldiers show
In their blues they're not coming to tea.
You'd prefer to say ‘killed in action'
So the loss value is not in doubt
You don't like to say ‘found dead in his room'
Or ‘died in the gym working-out'.

The C.N.O. will remain with them.
The Chaplain will offer support.
They will wait while the phone calls are being made
To friends, screaming and distraught.
And when at last it is settled
You make your way back to the car
Collecting your thoughts you sit and remember
The most difficult challenge by far.

Sergeant report to the C.A.C.
Make sure you're in your dress blues
You will meet with the Chaplain there
We've a Notification to do!
Saying farewell to your loved ones
Can bring more than a tear to your eye
But nothing's so dreaded by all to a man
Like announcing a final goodbye.

CAC - Casualty Area Command
dress blues - Light blue trousers and dark blue jacket with full decorations gold strip down the pants, stripes and patches. The Class "A" uniform
CNO - Casualty Notification Officer

In the event of a casualty or death of a member of the armed forces there is a strictly defined protocol on how and when the next of kin are to be notified. It is to be prompt and in an appropriate dignified and understanding manner by a uniformed service representative. He/she will wear the Class "A" Army Service Uniform, and present a soldierly appearance when making notification. The Army's policy is to make personal notification to the primary next of kin and secondary next of kin of the deceased soldier within four hours after learning of the death. Notification should take place from 0600 to 2200 (6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.) local time unless otherwise directed.
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Submitted on October 15, 2013

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Neil McLeod Claim this poet

Born in Oxford, raised in Kenya, past winner of Los Slamgeles Poetry Slam and author of abitingchance.blogspot.comand "The First Thanksgiving".Doctor McLeod is a performing poet who has recited at Highland Games, dinners and Burns Nights for the last 36 years. He is happily married, lives and works in Los Angeles,has three children, and practices as a dentist on Sunset Boulevard:http://www.drneilmcleod.com/He can be contacted by e-mail at drneilmcleod@yahoo.com and will willingly entertain requests to share his work with permission. more…

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    "The Knock On The Door" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 29 Jul 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/87031/the-knock-on-the-door>.

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