Military holidays are always tough for me. I never get it quite right when I want to take a stand. When I was young, maybe 5 or 6, my family watched theVietnam draft on TV. Numbers scrolled a blue screen. My parents watched with worry, fear, and a look of “say it isn’t so.” My father, the oldest of 4 boys (and 3 girls), was past the age of this draft. He had already served his time. But his brothers were ripe for drafting. One by one, like a clock ticking, each one of my Father’s brothers (my uncles) was drafted. I could feel an anxiety in my parents that said things like: “We have no choice.” “We have to be strong.” “We don’t know yet if we do have anything to worry about.” “This is just the way it has to be for now.” The picture is my brother and me at the airport, sending an Uncle off to Vietnam.
I wondered how this could be the land of the free. But it was certainly the land of the brave.
My nightmares, during that period of my life involved army men in combat — but they weren’t in Vietnam — they were in my neighborhood. The “nightmare” part was that no one could tell who the enemy was. One minute you thought you were with someone to carry you to safety, and then, in the next scene, they were going to kill you. After 911, I wondered if my nightmare was coming true.
- The first Uncle that was sent to Vietnam, came back unwounded, but changed. A much quieter man. Hurt deeply by whatever it was that he saw.
- The second Uncle got caught in a land mine. His camp didn’t think he would make it. But he did. No paralysis or life-time disability to battle each day. His wife usually hosts our Thanksgiving feast.
- The third Uncle — well, I can still see the flag they gave to my Grandmother at the funeral. The red stripes, in a perfectly padded triangle. A pillow that brought us little comfort. The gun shots we heard at the funeral were so unexpected. I felt like someone was blowing my heart out from behind. He was 17.
Several years later, when I was a know-it-all teen, and I had learned something about the political mess of the Vietnam “conflict”, I said that the entire Vietnam mess was a waste. This brought tears to my Father’s Eyes. “Are you saying that my brother’s death was a waste?” I knew my Father thought the war was senseless. I thought I was only echoing what he thought. Apparently, I didn’t get it quite right.
So, I asked my Father, now that decades have past since that exchange, to give me his thoughts on the Veterans. I thought it best to get it straight from him:
It seems many have forgotten those that have been in previous wars.
It seems to me there are far too many that use the excuse. “I did not
believe in the cause.”
We spend so much time with our “different views” that we never get
together to pull together.
We just stretch it out, that way we don’t pull together for the cause.
So our troops are out there fighting for our cause and we are back here
looking for another solution.
If we are still looking for another solution. What are our troops
How can we send our young men to fight when the Democrats and
Republicans are divided?
Just some of my thoughts.
As you can probably see I am not happy about how we support our troops.
Too many fence sitters.