A Memorial Day Tribute to Military Dogs
"Guardians of the Night" (author unknown) is a touching poem about military dogs (or police dogs, in some versions), which is read at most memorial ceremonies for them after they die. It leaves very few eyes dry, no matter how many times people have heard it. I really wanted to include it in my book Soldier Dogs, but it didn't work out.
I'm happy to bring it to you here today, on Memorial Day, the day we honor all those who have served, including four-legged heroes, who richly deserve the attention and praise. Military working dogs save so many lives and help so many troops who just need a friendly face to help boost their morale.
The poem's stanzas are interspersed with photos from my book and my Soldier Dogs Facebook page. For full effect, you might want to read the poem first and go back and read the photo captions. It may not be high poetry, but if you've ever known a dog's love and loyalty, you can begin to imagine the bond these dogs and handlers have, and you will feel this poem to your core.
We salute these intrepid dog teams -- and to those still in harm's way, we wish you a safe return.
"Guardians of the Night"
Trust in me, my friend, for I am your comrade.
I will protect you with my last breath.
When all others have left you and the loneliness of the night closes in, I will be at your side.
Together we will conquer all obstacles, and search out those who might wish harm to others.
All I ask of you is compassion, the caring touch of your hands.
It is for you that I will unselfishly give my life, and spend my nights unrested.
Although our days together may be marked by the passing of the seasons, know that each day at your side is my reward.
My days are measured by the coming and going of your footsteps.
I anticipate them at every opening of the door.
You are the voice of caring when I am ill.
The voice of authority when I’ve done wrong.
Do not chastise me unduly, for I am your right arm, the sword at your side.
I attempt to do only what you bid of me.
I seek only to please you and remain in your favor.
Together you and I shall experience a bond only others like us will understand.
When outsiders see us together their envy will be measured by their disdain.
I will quietly listen to you and pass no judgement,
nor will your spoken words be repeated.
I will remain ever silent, ever vigilant, and ever loyal.
And when our time together is done and you move on in the world,
Remember me with kind thoughts and tales, for a time we were unbeatable.
Nothing passed among us undetected.
If we should meet again on another street I will gladly take up your fight.
I am a military working dog, and together we are guardians of the night.