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Gay senior author writes Memorial Day poem to remember fallen military brethren

C.G. Mitchell

C.G. Mitchell

C.G. Mitchell (his friends call him Carl) of St. Petersburg has seen a lot in his 81 years.

He grew up in a children's home, one of many boys in a regimented ward where they always saluted the flag.

He ran five different businesses in the late 1960s — a coffee-sandwich shop, a clothing boutique, an eclectic shop called Leather, Feathers and Fur, a head shop and, perhaps his most successful venture, a store specializing in military collectibles — along storied Plum Street, Detroit's answer to San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury.

And, in between, he served as a combat medic — and watched his lover die — in the Korean War after entering the Army in 1949 as a 17-year-old, 98-pound kid from Detroit.

Mitchell, who is gay, said he was one of only seven men out of a company of 100 to survive the firefight. Today, he attends military funerals with the color guard to fulfill his lover's dying wish: "Don't forget me."

"My lover was killed right next to me. I always remember him every time they fire the three rounds (in honor of the deceased veteran)," he said.

Orphan, soldier, shopkeeper, registered nurse — and author — Mitchell moved here 11 years ago.

That's when he wrote a book called Marching to an Angry Drum, which deals with the difficulties enlisted gays and lesbians have when forced to lead double lives. It was something his therapist persuaded him to do to get over his loss.

He remains active with the military — he's in the color guard of American Legion Post 125 and is a life member of VFW Post 39 — and he's still writing.

Last year, for Memorial Day, Mitchell wrote a poem titled Remember Me to be recited on Memorial Day at the legion post. It's going to be read again this year.

It's dedicated to our honored dead who served in all branches of the military.

Asked why he wrote the poem, Mitchell said simply, "I'm a writer."

Next up from the author: Plum Street: Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll. The street, by the way, still exists but the original arts area is now a mere ghost, lost to the Fisher Freeway and the MGM Grand Casino.

Patti Ewald can be reached at pewald@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8746.

Remember Me

Remember me: I fought for you in all our wars both here and far away,

I fought and died in the name of freedom so that you might live today.

Remember me: For I was there in times of peace and every war we entered in,

I fought on land, on sea, and in the air so victorious in the end we might win.

Remember me: I was your husband, your wife, your daughter, your son,

I was your neighbor, your father, your mother, and could be most anyone.

Remember me: I was a baby, little girl, little boy, brother, sister, aunt and uncle, the child next door,

I knew laughter, I knew joy, I knew love, I knew sorrow, I knew pain and so much more.

Remember me: I was the girl that played with dolls, and the boy who played with a child's toy gun,

I was the cowboy, the Indian, movie maker, aviator, actor, soldier, sailor, marine, just in fun.

Remember me: I was the girlfriend, boyfriend, lover, schoolmate or friend,

I was always there when needed and in spirit 'til the end.

Remember me: I saw the seasons through sunshine, warmth, rain and cold.

I saw holidays, gatherings, parties, birthdays, picnics, and stories told.

Remember me: I was not just a name etched deep into stone, soon forgotten and left alone,

I was a person very much like you who experienced life as I had grown.

Remember me: I was the soldier, the sailor, Airman, Marine, the one who died to keep you free,

I am your country's honored dead who ask of you one single thing:

REMEMBER ME.

C.G. Mitchell

Gay senior author writes Memorial Day poem to remember fallen military brethren 05/21/13 [Last modified: Monday, May 20, 2013 5:54pm]
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