America in Uniform

America in Uniform

The Final Inspection







by Joshua Helterbran

The Soldier stood and faced God,
Which must always come to pass.
He hoped his shoes were shining,
Just as brightly as his brass.

Step forward now, Soldier ,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To My Church have you been true?’


The soldier squared his shoulders and said,
‘No, Lord, I guess I ain’t.
Because those of us who carry guns,
Can’t always be a saint.

I’ve had to work most Sundays,
And at times my talk was tough.
And sometimes I’ve been violent,
Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny,
That wasn’t mine to keep…
Though I worked a lot of overtime,
When the bills got just too steep.

And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times I shook with fear.
And sometimes, God, forgive me,
I’ve wept unmanly tears.

I know I don’t deserve a place,
Among the people here.
They never wanted me around,
Except to calm their fears.


If you’ve a place for me here, Lord,
It needn’t be so grand.
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don’t, I’ll understand.

There was a silence all around the throne,
Where the saints had often trod.
As the Soldier waited quietly,
For the judgment of his God.

‘Step forward now, you Soldier,
You’ve borne your burdens well.
Walk peacefully on Heaven’s streets,
You’ve done your time in Hell.’

Author Unknown~ (attributed in several of the postings that have been circulating)

Joshua wrote a Part II in order to clear up any confusion as to who was the author of

The Final Inspection


– Part II –

I’m very saddened by America today,
when they take credit for what others say.

I wrote a poem because of problems in my past,
how was I to know that it was going to last.

It has been read by all and loved the same,
but indeed at the end there is no name.

The name is simple for those who know,
it’s not Kilmer, Longfellow, Service, or Poe.

It’s a soldier who has fought for his country so true,
He’s proud of the ole Red, White and Blue.

You now know the poem the one and the same,
The Final Inspection is the name.

I wrote it because of the trials so true,
and of my buddies who died for country and you.


So take this poem, take it as you trod,
because in Heaven I’ll see my God.

He will look at me and say don’t be sad,
others read your poem and you made them glad.

Now step forward my son and look your best,
and come inside with all the rest.

by:  Sgt Joshua Helterbran


Here’s a small bio Joshua kindly permitted me [the webmaster of] to publish and a note from his Mom about the wonderful poem:

I entered military service September 18, 1996 I graduated from Basic Training in Ft. Benning, Ga. I then attended Jump School there, and went on to attend R.I.P (ranger indoctrination program). I was then stationed with Aco 3rd Platoon, Weapons Squad, 3rd Ranger Battalion. I then was stationed with the 1/508th ABCT, 173rd Brigade in Vincenza, Italy. I am currently stationed with HHC 224th Engineer Battalion. We were on deployment in Iraq, when I was injured. I am currently stationed at Ft. Sill, OK where I am receiving medical treatment. Thank you again for all you have done for us troops. God speed and God Bless.


From Joshua’s Mother:
The poem has a lot of meaning to many of people, as I have found it at many points on the Internet.

Loyal Subscribers!  We need some help.  The purpose of our “Heart” section is to publish stories of the experiences, contributions and sacrifices of our military (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard) and public service personnel (police officers, fire fighters, EMS, merchant marines and others in the public sector) as well as stories of their families.  Please search your memory and computer for a few and send them to Bill (CPT Otis) O’Quin at for possible publication.  Thanks!


Important links for updated military/defense information:
The Daily News Briefing: Today’s News for the U.S. Military, their families and friends.
The Military Trivia Challenge: Register and test your knowledge about military history.
U.S. Department of Defense: Military Defense News.

Comments read comments(3)
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posted May 26, 2015 at 10:48 pm

Three strangers came to my town.

Dedicated to all those who paid the ultimate price
1914 – 2014

Three strangers came to my home town, and each had travelled far,
One came by boat and one by plane, and one by motor car;
They did not know each other then, but this was soon to change,
And when you know the reason why, you will not find it strange.

The first man did not ask the way, to his intended goal,
but stepped out briskly on his way, to keep out winter cold;
His destination was of course, a place well known to some,
the reason now he did not ask, the poor man he was dumb.

The second man, a lonely man, he did not stop to chat,
But made his way into the town, he was quite sure of that;
And at his goal a friend to meet, he only knew as Geoff,
A big smile crossed his face just then, like him, his friend was deaf.

The third man heard the traffic noise, directions he did ask,
His final destination made, and that was quite some task;
No night or day for this poor man, I’m sure that you will find,
that this man had his problems too; yes this poor man was blind.

Now why should these three men arrive, not knowing one another?
They travelled far to pay respects unto a fallen brother;
Not one that they could call their kin, but one that they all knew,
The same as them my friends of course, he’s known to me and you.

The blind man took the deaf man’s arm; the deaf man took the mute,
and made their way to the poppy wreaths, to give their own salute;
they bowed their heads like you and I, as each year we get older,
and pay respects to the one we know, as our brother, the Unknown Soldier.

Dedicated to all those who paid the ultimate price
1914 – 2014

Copyright © 2014 Ronnie Hughes. All Rights Reserved
I served in Scottish Infantry Regiment from November 1963 until March 1986

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Joseph B. Stewart

posted November 22, 2014 at 6:21 pm

Thank you Sgt Helterbran for the words you penned that recognizes the United States Uniformed Services.

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betty A cooper

posted September 30, 2011 at 5:32 pm

thank you so much for this beautiful poem. It brings tears to my eyes everytime I read it . I have a son serving now in the army . He has been deployed twice to Iraq and will soon be going to afganistan. I sent him this poem and let him know how proud I am of him. All those brave service pepole deserve so much. Thanks doesn’t sound big enough

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