Los Héroes Mayores

In Mexico, there is a monument
Tall and proud
Six columns for six heroes
Who died rather than surrender
Los Niños Héroes

Niños because they were children
Still new to life
But they knew their moment of valiance
When it arrived.

In my neighborhood, in my city
I know people who are young no more
They are my elders,
Kind and gentle in their age
Beset with unseen enemies round about

Here is diabetes advancing
There is the stab of a stroke
Beyond is the cancer
Too close is the loss of balance
And the fall that comes after it

Legion is this army that advances
Veteran soldiers of disease and desuetude
Their allies may be contagious
But these soldiers can strike on their own
Such is their skill over the millennia

How do we choose to face them?
We cast about for our friends, our support
But they fall, too, to the relentless advance
Ultimately, we face them alone
We face the unseen enemies alone

We know not one of us gets out alive
We know not one of us escapes unscathed
There will be scars before we die
There will be nights of agony before we die
There will be all but death, ere we die

But life is no eruption of accidents
We chose to be here
We chose to make choices
We chose to face agonies and despairs
That we would know peace and joys

As long as we are rational,
As long as we can yet choose,
We choose how we face that unseen army alone
We choose how we come to terms with the victory of death
We choose how we endure the sting of the grave

I heard once the tale
Of a man, advanced in age,
Who knew he would die of stomach cancer
His son asked him what was the purpose of it
The elder replied, “The Lord needs valiant men.”

And so he took the final charge in his hospital bed
Without flinching, he did his last duty
He accepted his lot and dug into his soul
Finding the eternal courage to become one of
Los Héroes Mayores

Mayores because they are elders
Experienced in life
But they knew their moment of valiance
When it arrived.

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