Salute to a Dakota Chief: For Woody Keeble


'Blessed be the Lord my strength who teaches my hands to war

 and my fingers to fight' ( David, Psl. 144: 1)

'Greater love hath no man then to lay down his life for his friend'


Here's to Woodrow Wilson Keeble,

Gentle Giant, fighting Sioux;

Here's to one who fought for freedom

Doing work the fearful dare not do.



It was Woody 'gainst a mountain

And a Chinese red brigade;

Not the kind of odds most soldiers like,

But this warrior faced them unafraid.

And when the guns fell silent,

Many enemy lay dead,

But Woody's men were still alive

(A red man too was badged with red.)



I salute you Woody Keeble--

Scop to Sculptor, soul to soul'

It's men like you, the fearless few

Who bear their nation's heaviest toll.

You take the scars, you shed the blood

In fox-holes, hell-holes, swamps, and hills--

Living on C's in snow or mud,

Killing the pain with jokes and pills.


Why wouldn't the Lord's 'Last Supper'*

Catch your warrior-sculptor's eye?

For sacrifice knows sacrifice,

Knows sometimes people have to die.

You saw in Jesus one sent down

To lead the lost and wounded home,

Who died to make a way for Love

Marked off with blood, His own.

To make a way so peaceful folk

Can live in bless`ed liberty,

God rears up braves to bear the yoke

And blunt the spears of tyranny;



Freedom survives only where men

Confront the tyrant's looming hell.

Thank God for men like Keeble!

We must decorate them well!



Three purple hearts, a cross, a star

Won in two brutal, bloody wars?

How many young men must he save?

How heavy a cross should he have bourne?

He deserves the Medal of Honor,

The best our government can give.

Though Woody Keeble's soul has flown,

His legendary deeds still live:

A fast ball almost none could hit,*

A nature kind and full of fun,

An artist with a soldier's wit

Laid chisel down and took up the gun.



Both 'Chief' and Roger Maris live

In home-town halls of fame.

And will, 'till blocks and bunglers

Deflate or quit the game;

For truth in legends does not die;

God wants the truth to 'out'.

So all who fought for liberty

Can hear their grateful nation's shout,

'Well Done!' And to Woody Keeble,

Warrior, 'Chief,' from old Waubay,

May your praise resound past Wahpeton

And justice reign today.


*One account says Keeble worked hard on sculpted version of 'The Last Supper.'

 *My father-in-law, Dr. E. P. Walker, a WW I vet., used to hold that the two greatest pitchers he ever saw were
hall-of-fame member, Walter Johnson and a local man he knew simply as 'Chief'.
Of course now I realize he meant Woody Keeble.

*Roger Maris, is another whose feats have been grossly ignored or understated.
He and Mickey Mantle, gave many of my generation the greatest summer of baseball we'd ever had '61 in 61!
And with no steroids'only ridicule from the establishment press. His day too will come.


Written May 2006/ revised March 2008 See original version www.friendlyarts.net/genepinkney 

 

RETURN TO POETRY INDEX PAGE