After a phone call from Karen Schulman, I was moved to sit down and write a few lines about my friend Joe Labriola. Hang in there buddy, there is a reason that we found each other again this late in the game!

My Friend Joe

Was it five minutes?
Or forty two years?
A drop in an ocean?
Or a lake full of tears?

Our hair thick and dark.
We were muscular and thin.
The world was our oyster
So where to begin?

A war and our duty,
Soon caused us to part.
But the memories remain,
Buried deep in the heart.

Oceans and trade winds,
Mixed with napalm and sand.
The eagle's wings carried us,
To a far, troubled land.

Weeks turn to months,
And months become years
"Destiny" our ship,
But someone else steers.

We seldom take time,
To weigh the full cost.
By the time we reflect,
Much has been lost.

Each life a mixture,
Of glory and pain.
Time slipped through the glass,
We can never regain.

Our paths once were joined,
For a reason I'm sure
For years, worlds apart,
Now together once more.

How can two brothers
Live such different lives?
Though a common thread binding,
Was the love of their wives.

One to the East,
And one to the West
Each of them sailing
The ship they knew best.

In the land to the East
There did scoundrels abound.
And with lies and deceit
They ran him aground.

A hero's lament
Can be the medals he wears.
When a jury can't tell,
The wheat from the tares.

No evidence then,
And none surfaced yet.
Their declaration of guilt?
"He's a Vietnam vet."

A man of great valor,
Midst the Corps proudest ranks.
So locked in a cage,
Is how they gave thanks.

He wears battle scars,
So that you can breath free
Yet "Life without hope"
Was the judge's decree.

All prisoners proclaim
Their innocent ways
Yet the masses all counter
With "Crime never pays."

Most cons are just casting
Their lies to the wind
But when Joe says he's innocent
Then I believe him!

I'm not sure the answer,
Why our paths led apart
But I believe God is Sovereign
In matters of heart

Years down the road,
Our paths again cross
With a feeling of sadness
At what has been lost.

But one can't bemoan
Water over the dam
We must now secure freedom
For an innocent man.

Dear Father please help us
And let us be bold
Bring truth to the light
And let the story be told

Forty years changes much
Kingdoms rise and they fall
While a decorated hero
Just stares at four walls.

Father give us direction,
What to do? where to go
For freedom is calling
To my old friend Joe!

William Lowery
© March 8, 2008

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