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America Supports You: Web Site Will Pay Tribute to Poet Warriors

By Terri Lukach
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 6, 2005 – Pfc. Jamie A. Goldstein so touched Kristin Johnson with his poem about the eagerness of soldiers in training to fight for their country that she dedicated a Web site to sharing his poems and the stories of other poet warriors.

"I was just blown away by this wonderful poem," Johnson said. "The voice he puts to the military is so incredible."

Johnson said Goldstein's poem inspired her to showcase his words and those of others like him. "The men and women of our armed forces are bright, intelligent and committed - especially those serving now in Afghanistan and Iraq," Johnson said. "They are doing something with their lives and for other people. They are expressing their passion, their dreams and their commitment to freedom. And I am passionate about giving them a voice," she said.

Goldstein is attached to the Army's 2nd Battalion, 58th Infantry Division, and is awaiting deployment to Iraq. His poem describes the warrior ethos of a brotherhood training for war and eager to fight for freedom.

Johnson said she spoke with Goldstein's mother. "I talked to her about the poem," Johnson said, "and was captivated by the need to capture the history of these men and their families." The "Poet Warrior Project" started in earnest this month, and Johnson said she expects the site to be up and running in a few months. Goldstein's poem will be its inaugural presentation.

Johnson said that while people know of many poets from past wars, from the nation's earliest days through World War II, not many poets from recent wars are known. "Yet, these men are in touch with life at its most fundamental level. To not express that, to lose it, is a waste," she said.

"This is the history record of a generation, a generation that is doing something phenomenal. They are fighting a war against terrorism, and none of us knows what it is like," she continued. "I want to record their experiences, their feelings, and also that of their families."

Johnson is a playwright, a journalist, a Web writer, a screenwriter, the author of three books, and the creator of an Internet site called "Poems for You" which she launched in 2001. "Writing is my passion," she said. "I have always written poetry - for special occasions like birthdays or weddings. Finally, someone asked, 'Why don't you get paid for it?'"

She said poetry is a special, personal kind of writing. "There is something about poetry that is mystical, beautiful," she said. "It doesn't need to be for publication, but to express feelings. That's what these soldiers are doing, and in such a beautiful way."

Johnson said she was impressed by the depth, courage and eloquence of Goldstein's poetry, and hopes to raise awareness of the many wonderful things American troops are doing that go unreported.

"I'm really thrilled to be able to support our troops in this way," she said.

When Eagles Learn to Fly by Pfc. Jamie A. Goldstein 2nd Battalion, 58th Regiment Jan. 14, 2005

High atop a mountain,
The newest look around.
In their hearts they yearn to jump,
But to the nest, they're bound.
They see what's going on abroad,
And it consumes their thoughts.
There's shoes to fill and prey to kill,
And targets to be caught.
They may be mean, they may be angry,
Strong may be their drive.
But all of that means nothing,
'Til these eagles learn to fly.

They sacrifice their blood and sweat,
Earn feathers one-by-one,
And bleed and sweat they will, until
The day of training's done.
And at that time, they then reflect,
On things they all have learned,
And often re-read passages,
From pages that they've turned.
With contempt for their confinement,
They sing verses as they cry,
But that will all soon change
When these eagles learn to fly.

Their blood is hot. Their eyes are cold.
Their hearts know not of fear.
They dream of wreaths of olive leaves,
But still clutch tight their spears.
Collectively they ponder,
The enemies they will try.
They've skills to hone and wings to grow,
But that, they know, takes time.
When the sand has fell completely,
And their wings spread true and wide,
They'll soar across the skyline
And the world shall hear them cry:
"Those who dare burn olive branches,
Those who force their way,
Those who seize what isn't theirs,
And dare refuse to pay,
Those who live by wicked values,
And dare to walk with pride,
Clear your throat and swallow,
For we have learned to fly!"

"Those who dare crusade,
Against the name of what is just,
Those who dare raise arms,
By exploiting others' trust,
And expect a repercussion,
No more violent than a sigh,
Today you shall be proven wrong,
For we have learned to fly!"
"Those who dare condemn us,
For enjoying our free will,

Those who feel our choices,
Make us wrong enough to kill,
Those who dare assault us,
Anywhere at any time -
You've met your final adversary;
For we have learned to fly!"

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