“Dallas at Dawn” is a poem that narrates the true story of an impromptu, early-morning homecoming for hundreds of American servicemen and servicewomen who returned home to the United States after serving overseas.

I was blessed to have been there.

Returning troops at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport are usually greeted by welcoming parties throughout the day, but due to the early-morning nature of this homecoming, the reaction of those travelers in the terminals was particularly unique…

Dallas at Dawn

By Dave Ursillo

From strings to God’s hand was the orb slowly raised,
“Arise, winter sun: light the prairie ablaze.”
A whisper of orange gently flooded the plain,
Waking weary and sleeping from slumber again.
The desert now glowed in yellows and reds,
As farmers and workers all rose from their beds.
They raised high the flag, this morn like the rest,
With warm eyes and salutes and hands to their chests.
Though times were not easy, but tattered and torn,
They counted their blessings; their pride was still strong.
Erasing the night, new light rushed and it spread,
Old Glory flew proudly; the sun overhead.
Miles away lay an Oasis of Flight,
With large halls and rails, planes and bright lights.
A great hub of trav’lers, from both near and from far,
They cycled and funneled through halls from their cars.
Passengers shuffled like drones to their doors,
To board waiting steel cacti, and away they would soar.
The sun swept through glass panes, towering and tall,
Gently breaking the whisper of the terminal halls.
None dare break morn’s quiet; and few would protest
Amid heavy-eyed travelers who so longed for rest.
And yet their relief was so less deserved,
Than two-hundred soldiers who had proudly served.
The sun still ascended, and one plane touched down,
And dozens of black boots marched over the ground.
The hours like years, they dragged for so long;
At last they returned to Dallas at dawn.
Without much notice, the troops so did tread,
Through a high glass catwalk that hung overhead.
Passengers slept in the halls down below,
An impromptu homecoming; though no one did know.
Quiet, and selfless, so true to their form,
They wished not attention; and so they walked on.
Rucks on their backs, they marched down the hall,
The sun rose behind them; proudly and tall.
Just then one woman, a book in her lap,
Glanced up from her pages; she stood and she clapped.
Without hesitation, in hopes they might know,
She shattered the silence with the thanks that she owed.
Those whom she woke looked in every direction,
Trying to seek out her point of affection.
They noticed their troops walking calmly above,
And realized, together, they must show them their love.
Rather than anger or upsettedness shown,
The groggy too rose; they knew they owed
Those few and the brave who fought overseas,
The ones who ensured quiet mornings like these.
More and more rose to their feet with their cheers;
A standing ovation for their patriot peers.
Row, by row, troops emerged from the door,
With shy, tight-lipped smiles, turned their heads to the floor.
The troops just kept walking, only glancing below,
List’ning to thanks that their neighbors bestowed.
“Just doing our jobs,” with simple nods of their heads,
“But you don’t understand,” the crowd collectively plead.
The people grew prouder and stronger and louder instead,
More clapping, more cheering, and onward it spread!
Through the terminal halls, from one to the next,
With thumbs up in the air and great cheers from their chests.
While surrender they never when on the front lines,
The American indebted refused to resign.
The crowds overcame them with joy and their pride;
The troops now waved back; most smiled, some cried.
With thanks and with love and for all that they gave,
These strangers united, for our troops who depraved
Themselves of their fam’lies, their friends and their children,
Risking life and limb; for all they had given.
“To freedom! To freedom! Proud Red, White and Blue!
You’ve served us so proudly, now let us serve you!”
The thankful, together, took the mantle that morn,
The troops’ jobs had ended;  but the people’s had dawned.
One people, they stood, in united applause,
For defending their freedoms, their lives and their laws.
Once calm, now ovation; now whistles, once yawns,
The sun shined all-the-more brightly in Dallas at dawn.