MANASQUAN — On Veterans Day last Friday, Manasquan resident Mona Kirk was going through boxes of military albums belonging to her late husband, John, and discovered a poem written by him at the age of 18 while he was serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
Mr. Kirk had always been proud of being a veteran, Ms. Kirk told The Coast Star. He was also proud of the poem he wrote, as U.S. forces battled to take Okinawa island from the Japanese Imperial Army in April 1945.
It was the only poem he ever wrote, she said.
“By the time Monday rolled around, I thought I had to share this,” Ms. Kirk said, remarking on how it reflected the thoughts of a kid fresh out of high school who put off college to serve his country — and could not have envisioned the long and full life that lay ahead of him.
He died at his home on June 8, at the age of 95.
You’re tired tonight, its funny why,
This day’s been just like the rest.
So you settle back and pray to God,
That your folks and home are blessed.
You’re thanking Him for your health and friends,
When the warning siren blows.
Lights go out!; Traffic stops!
Airstrips?, Ships?, who knows?
Smoke-boats are screening the ships in the bay,
Each gunner tense at his post.
You can hear them now, not far away,
A few got through, six at the most.
The order is given, guns open up,
Each spitting its stream of red lead.
Still down they come in fantical dives,
Well knowing that death lies ahead
It’s been some time since the last place crashed
And you’re even more tired than before
Prayers are finished, but sleep doesn’t come
For again, your mind’s on the war.
When it comes to dying, you’re not afraid,
Even if you “check out” a mess.
Your fear lies in the loss of all,
That you just prayed God would bless.
You worship and love, the things that once
You took for granted as, well, just there.
Things like your home and the kids down the street,
But your Mom and Dad were never so dear.
You try to picture a world of peace,
A world of love, sincere and deep.
But your mind is blank, you try in vain,
For your eyes are closed in dreamless sleep.
Upon graduation from Kearny High School in 1944, John Kirk enlisted in the Navy and served from 1944 to 1946 in the 81st Naval Construction Battalion, or Seabees.
He was stationed in the South Pacific during World War II and fought in the Battle of Okinawa. After his honorable discharge from the Navy, John attended Lehigh University where he was an officer in Alpha Kappa Psi and graduated with a degree in business.
Mr. Kirk was recruited by 3M Company and later joined his father-in-law as vice president of Northeast Development Corporation in Farmingdale. Together they went on to form the International Development Corporation in Tinton Falls. Mr. Kirk became president of that company and retired in 2008.
Mr. Kirk was a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandpa or “Big Papa” who was devoted to his family, according to his obituary.
John and Mona Kirk celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in January of 2021 and resided in Manasquan together for more than 60 years.
This is an excerpt of the print article. For more on this story, read The Coast Star—on newsstands Thursday or online in our e-Edition.
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