We're supposed to fly flags and be patriotic today. Whatever the "being patriotic" part means... For the record, I AM flying my flag today but only at half staff. In fact, I never fly my flag at anything but half staff. Flying the flag should humble us. "Pride goeth before a fall." We've had enough pride, and falling is a distinct possibility now.
Time to check out the humility side of the aisle.
Well, Veterans Day 2010...
The newspapers have been full of Biggest (Christmas) Sale of the Year flyers already.
Ain't even Turkey Day yet.
I was supposed to donate blood at the Red Cross today. But I'm recovering from a cold and will shed the red stuff another day when it's healthier. I gave them a triple unit of platelets just a week ago today. My veteran's gift to life.
But on this day I'm remembering so many things, and I know there are so many unshared memories and untold stories. Please read a few of these and share with friends: http://www.patheos.com/community/karenspearszacharias/
And on this day I can't help thinking about Wes. And what he told Ron just before he shipped out for Vietnam in '67. Wes didn't expect to return. And he didn't. Almost did, but he didn't. You can only wish all soldiers would return alive. Most did return alive, of course.
Not all were well.
I saw first hand the life and death tightrope that many walked daily when many years ago I visited the counseling groups for veterans and their families at the Klamath Falls office of (then) Lutheran Family Service of Oregon. LFS was saving countless lives with tools other than surgery, IV's and antibiotics.
Let's say Wes had returned. What kind of life would his have been? I don't know, and no one but God does. Years later my late friend Jack, an 1800-hour Cobra pilot, would tell me point blank:
"When you have killed other human beings, it can be hard to think of yourself as a moral person again."
I learned in the vets' groups at Klamath Falls just how many returned vets and their loved ones were struggling to make it. Not all who made it, "made it." For those who did not, for those who still struggle today, these words:
The time never stopped
though it seemed to come and go, inverted
Nightmarish nights of terror, unnerving days between
He died in the spirit at nineteen
too wounded to feel the pain--injury went unseen
And a youthful dream was left to rot
stillborn in muddy fear.
His body returned, warm and breathing
though the eyes told pale death within
Never certain if it ended,
if anything else had been...
With alcohol, he built a wall
Held together with pills and pain
People never got near, let alone inside
They never cared to once they'd tried
And somewhere the fog would close again,
remind him of the rain...
Chills and sweat and pain, bloody mud and rain
The fog would close...
Sometime between his childhood
and early Friday afternoon
The fog came in...
And he walked off the edge of the World.
Copyright 2010 by Roger D. Fuchs. All rights reserved.
God's eternal peace to you today, brothers and sisters.
Thank you for your service, and welcome home!