It's what he should do, right? After all, his father served in WWII, his stepfather in Korea, and his brother-in-law in Vietnam. And so, I have watched him do this year after year with a modicum of reverence, but never quite grasping the full impact of his actions. However, when I began to research the Vietnam War for Destiny's Plan, the rite took on a new depth and significance. You see, John was lucky. His lottery number was high. While other young men were pulled away, their lives truncated by the hated Draft and sent to a despised and misunderstood war, he didn't have to worry. He could sleep at nights knowing he wouldn't be called.
We've had many discussions on this subject. As an inquisitive female, I always tried to get to the core. What did he feel back then? What was it like? But we never reached the marrow, I always got the usual brush off, "Aw, honey it was crazy." End of conversation.
This morning it hit me like a ton of bricks. For him, it's a private ceremony, respectful and quiet, without any fanfare or speeches. He remembers the fallen and thanks the merciful God that kept him away from hell. For make no mistake it was Gehenna on Earth. From all the books and testimonials I've read—a topic for another day—our boys had no clue what awaited them. They were cannon fodder, sent to feed the insatiable appetite of the Gods of War and their minions. But the biggest crime of all, was the reaction of our nation. When our boys came back, the fortunate (insert irony here) who came back with their spirits shredded and their bodies wounded we treated them like pariahs as they suffered in silence. Some are suffering still, from chemicals sprayed in the jungle and an unending, incomprehensible PTSD. What shame. We shall bear a dark mark for a long time.
Today we are different, thank the Lord. We have turned the page and acquired a new awareness. No longer do our men and women return from serving without their due honor. It took a cataclysmic act in September 2001 for us to realize, they get in the way of the bullet that would harm us, they protect us day and night and don't even know us. It should always be this way. In the meantime, let's just take one more minute of silence and remember the names etched on a long black wall.