As You Were

There we all stood
In our new army boots.
We were young and naive.
We were all raw recruits.

And the man before us,
Standing straight as a rod,
Was Drill Sergeant Kerr,
And he was our god.

His buttons were bright.
His belt buckle shone,
And his facial features
Were chiseled in stone,

For he’d been in Korea
And World War II,
But the year now was
1962.

It was only the Cold War,
Times more or less calm,
And no one had heard yet
Of South Viet Nam.

So we’d fall out each morning
And stand in the square
At attention, and Drill Sergeant
Kerr would be there.

“GOOD DAY, MEN!” he’d say
With a voice like a bell.
“GOOD MORNING, DRILL SGT, SIR!”
We’d all yell.

Now you don’t address sergeants
As “Sir,” it’s true.
But believe me at Fort Ord
In boot camp, you do!

And we learned to dig holes
With collapsible spades,
And he taught us the M-1,
Bayonets and grenades.

And though boot camp
Was a terrible 60-day slog,
We were glad to have Drill Sergeant
Kerr as our god.

But what I loved most
About Drill Sergeant Kerr
Was when he said simply,
“Men... as you were.”

“As you were,” meant
Something he’d said wasn’t true,
A mistake of some sort,
But we also knew

That wrong information
From high army powers
Really meant the mistake
Now was ours.

Oh, the error was ours now
For sure, Baby Cakes,
Cuz those high army powers?
They don’t make mistakes.

And we also knew well
That the good Sergeant Kerr
Would make us okay
With a neat, “As you were.”

For instance: “Train Fire
Today, men... at noon.
AS YOU WERE!
Train Fire today is at one!

To me,“As you were,”
Was simply sublime!
Sgt. Kerr could actually
Go back in time

And take us back with him
To reset the clocks
For time to rethink things
And pull up our socks.

Like being reborn!
Like being forgiven!
Like being a Meat Head
But going to heaven!

He’d forgive all our errors
And make our hearts pure
By simply saying, “Men,
As you were.”

After which, from his
High army station,
He’d resupply us
Correct information.

And I thought then of Adam
In the Garden of Eden
And the terrible apple
Of sin he had eaten,

And of God, with His awful
Foreknowledge, Who knew
All along as He made him
What Adam would do.

And I thought what if God,
Like the merciful Kerr,
Had said simply, “Adam, my boy,
As you were,”

Allowing poor Adam
A simple reshuffle
On all that Original Sin stuff
Kerfuffle.

Would that have moved
Human history a notch up?
Which you have to admit’s
Been a bit of a botch up.

So I thought when I die...
When I’m done with this dance,
I’ll be big... and give God
A fair second chance.

I’ll appear at my judgment,
My sins on my sleeve
(Some more original
Than God may believe)

And pray that His Highness
Like the merciful Kerr,
Will say simply, “Mister, Now...
As you were.”