“The Empty Chair”, A Poem Written by Former Andover Resident

Dave Grover served in Iraq after September 11

By Submitted by Sandy Miller; Written by Dave Grover


In our home we have a tradition
Whenever we gather there,
We count the table settings
But always add an empty chair.

We speak of love and life together
And take some time to share,
Remembering those who are missing
And thus the empty chair.

It’s an act of solidarity
And a reminder that life isn’t fair
It’s a sign of love and compassion
For those with their own empty chair

For life is precious and life is brief
It’s fragile and enchanted
But life’s not fair and death’s a thief
So don’t take your love for granted.

In one outrageous act of hate
In homes from town to town
Families felt the sting of death
The day the planes went down .

The planes kept falling from the sky
First one, then two, then three and four
Our world was changed in the blink of an eye,
And it won’t be the same anymore.

Immobilized by disbelief
Wes stared at our TV
This just cannot be happening here
Not here in the land of the free.

We watched as New York’s finest
Responded to their last call,
And a nation watched in horror
As the buildings began to fall.

Terror rose like billowing smoke
The flames began to roar
But against the current of the throng
They dashed in on ground floor.

Twisted minds gave gruesome birth
To tragedy immeasurable
Twisted steel and muddy earth
The toll would be unimaginable.

Innocent lives have been shattered
Their songs will never be sung
Their voices have all been silenced
By the carnage of nine-one-one.

Promises left unfulfilled
Dreams, like buildings, shattered
Thy are remembered as they were
Their lives, cut short, still matter.

United in grim resolution
Our enemies ought to beware.
We  know the high cost of freedom
And we know who emptied that chair.

Like many who’ve gone before us
From Pearl Harbor to “Nam over there
The dreadful cost of freedom
A new generation will bear.

And over the thunder of falling concrete
And the chime of splintering glass
Can you hear the faint echo of fife and drum
As the weary heroes pass?

O say can you see on a mound of rubble
Planted by firemen who cared,
The Star Spangled Banner still waving
Because America doesn’t run scared.

Our table is a gathering place
A refuge from the world out there
We count the table settings
But always leave an empty chair.

Before we touch what’s on our plate
We bow our heads in prayer
Asking God to bind the powers of  hate
As we remember the empty chair.

We join hands with each other
And our father, strong to save
Unites our hearts with those whose loss
Is written on a grave.

We join them in their sorrow
But know it can’t compare
With the magnitude of loss they feel
When they see their empty chair.

Lord, my family’s  all alone now
It’s almost more than I can bear
My empty place is not symbolic
Now I’ve left an empty chair

I’d like to ask a favor, Lord
Because  I’m serving in Iraq
There’s something you could do for me
Until I make it back

When my  family’s around my table
And they lift their hearts in prayer
Reassure them with your presence, Lord
And sit in my empty chair.

By Chaplain (MAJ) David Grover
OIF II – Re September 11, 2004