Saturday, November 30, 2013

Combat Boots

image borrowed from bing

Combat Boots

“Most of my young years were spent under
the boots of the military.”--Paulo Coelho.

Back in the 
Mary Jane smoky 60’s, when
I was in 

the Navy, we
called all military boots brogans;
the first time

I had ever
heard the term. Smart-assed
kids that we

were, we would
insult each other by saying,
“Your mother wears

combat boots!”. Turns
out brogan is derived from
the Irish word

brogue, which meant
any rugged boot that barely
covered the ankle.

During the French
Revolution, aristocrats quit wearing big
buckled boots; fearing

the guillotine, they
began wearing laced-up boots.
Thomas Jefferson, in

tribute, in 1801
started the fashion of wearing
laced-up boots--

and later all
laced up footwear were called
Jeffersons. During the

Civil War, soldiers
all wore the 1851 Jefferson
brogan; square-toed,

with four eyelets
& leather laces--but hard
to tell apart,

North or South, 
once covered in mud &
blood. Somewhere along

the way, we
began to refer to troop
deployment as boots

on the ground.
Our  brave soldiers wore those
sturdy leather brogans

during World Wars
I & II, and Korea--
but in Vietnam

the brogan became
the jungle boot, with heavy
canvas replacing the

leather sides. Now
during the 21st Century, as
we send soldiers

the Middle Eastern
deserts, scorching temps of 130-
140 degrees literally

melt the combat
boots. Brogans today have become
symbolic of the

dead soldier who
once wore them. We all
remember the Eyes

Wide Open exhibit
at Bradley University where 230
military boots were

placed in neat
rows of eight; heart-breaking
as Art, as

truth. We are
now used to seeing images
of thousands of

empty brogans, eyelets
open, laces loose, with dog
tags, flowers, and

flags poking out
of them, often placed alongside
rifles shoved into

the ground with
an empty helmet perched atop.
Personally, the only

military boots I
ever admired were the pair
worn by Neil

Armstrong as he
left those indelible boot sole
prints in the

gray-white moondust,
boots of hope, leaving beautiful
imprints that, although

not forgotten, have
not yet been bested by
boots on Mars. 

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on dVerse Poets Poetics

Would you like to hear the author read this poem to you?


annotating60 said...

Being a history nut I always love your poems that go into those small facts of things while making it so pleasant to learn in reading it. >KB

Victoria said...

I suspected you would post something like this, Glenn. I echo KB--I love how your poems teach.

Claudia said...

nice... the boots that leave imprints of hope instead destruction... we surely leave our footprints and it matters big time what they look like...

Claudia said...

oh and...when you mentioned the french revolution i remembered that we learned at school that in versailles they wore shoes with red heels...the men... i always found that fascinating...smiles

Brian Miller said...

wow. you covered quite a bit of history in those boots...the hardest ones to look at but ones that need our attention are the ones of the dead soldiers by that are important...there have been wars and battles lost for lack of good shoes....

Gabriella said...

I second KB and Victoria, Glenn! I enjoy what I learn via your poems and how you can make us smile or wipe a tear.

Mary said...

I enjoyed the history of the military boot, Glenn. Nice post! I think it would be quite something to see the actual pair of boots worn by Neil Armstrong when he walked on the moon!

Björn said...

You always pack your poetry with facts. This was enjoyable to read despite the stark theme...

aprille said...

Your lines were made for walking...through history. Interesting approach. We know brogues as boots or more often shoes, decorated with a line of large/smaller perforations.

Laurie Kolp said...

So much wonderful history here, Glenn... especially the moon part.

I love boots, too. = )

howanxious said...

Great facts and so very well incorporated in vivid images.
Intense sometimes and playful at certain other stances. Very well-penned.

michaelt said...

Excellent I feel as though i have had the most interesting of history lessons Glenn. Thanks for all that.

Roslyn Ross said...

Only through knowing our history, personal and national, can we know ourselves.

billgncs said...

I learned, and was entertained by this. Nice.

Susan said...

Your ending surprised me--from history to hope, though I suppose it was always about hope.

kaykuala said...

Boots that leave imprints are evidences of history. And you've include lots of historical facts here. Thanks for sharing Glenn. Great write!


Sherry Blue Sky said...

I learned a lot in this poem, Glenn. I enjoyed reading the history..........saddened by the empty boots, rifle in the ground.......sigh. I also cant help but think about the many millions who have no shoes or, at best, shoes made from tire rubber.

Abhra said...

I am reading your poetry for the first time and completely enjoyed it. The touch of history made it magnificent.

Tigerbrite said...

Fascinating history of the boot. And a sad reflection on war and revolution. Enjoyed thank you.

Mystic_Mom said...

Something to enjoy. Something to learn. Something to frown at. To smile at. To inspire a tear. This is your piece for me - thank you!

gila_mon said...

Like how you left us with the boot of hope, and the dream of one more giant leap for mankind.