Veterans Day Poems

Classic and contemporary poems that explore the meaning of Veterans Day.
National monument of white grave overlooking a field

In poems, podcasts, articles, and more, writers measure the human effects of war.  As they present the realities of life for soldiers returning home, the poets here refrain from depicting popular images of veterans. Still, there are familiar places: the veterans’ hospitals visited by Ben Belitt, Elizabeth Bishop, Etheridge Knight, and W.D. Snodgrass; the minds struggling with post-traumatic stress in Stephen Vincent Benét’s and Bruce Weigl’s poems. Other poets salute particular soldiers, from those who went AWOL (Marvin Bell) to Congressional Medal of Honor winners (Michael S. Harper). Poet-veterans Karl Shapiro, Randall Jarrell, and Siegfried Sassoon reflect on service (“I did as these have done, but did not die”) and everyday life (“Bank-holidays, and picture shows, and spats”). Sophie Jewett pauses to question “the fickle flag of truce.” Sabrina Orah Mark’s soldier fable is as funny as it is heartbreaking—reminding us, as we remember our nation’s veterans, that the questions we ask of war yield no simple answers.