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My cargo so precious I carried with pride -

Brave men and women who stood side by side;

The stars and stripes waving so high up above -

My country, my mission, any vessel would love.

My sailors all knew their assignment full well,

They performed at top merit their Captains would tell;

As a unit they stood all together as one,

So deserving of honor - America’s daughters and sons.

This wasn’t a war...just a bright sunny day -

A sudden shudder tore my hull away;

A gaping hole letting water inside -

And I knew with that thunderous blast some had died.

My sirens were screaming - flames reaching high

Sailors were moaning and....so was I!

Work hard men and women! We must not fail!

Seal off the compartments! It’s too much to bail!

All the medics were working at a feverish pace -

Scenes of pure heroism all over the place!

The strongest were praying while their muscles of steel

Assisted in any way they could see or feel.

...When darkness fell we scarcely noticed at all

Aching to hear every voice at roll call.

...Finally the moving memorial came -

Only because of those heroes so brave...

My stars and stripes, (lower), still flew just the same

All our beautiful children accounted for by name.

Now I stood naked - before the whole world

Men working feverishly where bombs had been hurled.

My heroes are living.. and healing .. and dead;

And I will come home just the way I am led.

You’ll welcome me home - as you always do -

The cheers will be heard by all of my crew.

We’re still wounded, still healing, but proud just the same-

And the U.S.S. Cole will serve you again.

For you’ll build back my hull with a star and a story

To the tip of the flagpole raise high Old Glory

We’ll always remember... FREEDOM’S NOT FREE!!!

And we’ll never forget...HEROES LIKE THESE!

Joan Clifton Costner

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