For Bac Tien
By Michael Kovacevich
They came from places with names we had never heard,
Langdon, North Dakota
They came, raw-boned, smiling, tousle-haired,
These American boys.
Their eyes shone with wonder and fear as they stepped off the plane and
Were enveloped by the wall of heat in Vietnam.
It took only days to realize that the stench of death was a warning that this
Was not a friendly place.
An enemy who dared not show his face, who killed from behind cover and who
Popped out of tunnels and ran away.
To survive was to win.
It became a personal war.
I did not serve, but I honor those who did, who lived, who died.
Young men and women who left a piece of themselves on that foreign shore.
Years later, these good men and women look around, and silently whisper,
As they see the marching bands and the jets fly overhead honoring today’s Iraqi War Veterans,
“Where is My Parade?”
“I served. I answered the call. I am the forgotten.”
They look along the Mall, and see the bronze soldiers with their capes against the Korean winter, and say, “Brother, I understand. We, too, were greeted with silent shores, with
Muted trumpets, and lowered hands, and downcast eyes. Such as it may be, we stand beside you. We chosen few. We brothers and sisters in arms.”
They look at each other and say,
“We are the American Vietnam veterans.
We answered the call.
Our pride is deep.
We will never forget
Dong Ap Bia
And countless fire bases secured with American blood, with sharp-shooting Wyoming boys who smiled their last time on some forgotten wire, with warrant officers who risked their lives to evacuate the wounded and took one themselves and did not make it home, with brown water riverine Navy men who silently patrolled the dangerous channels with no name and death around every corner.
They look at each other and say, “We answered the call. We stand proud this Memorial Day. We will never forget.”
I was a VA volunteer for a few years.
A clip I hold close to the heart.
The sound of the Budweisers/Tridents being slammed into the coffin too much for me.
Not just words to our veterans.
Our nation owes a debt to them that can never be repaid. We can only acknowledge it, never forget it, and care for our veterans the best way we can when they return and need us. For when we needed them, they did not hesitate to step up to the line and answer the call of duty.
I stand humbled in their presence.
That line was corny to some who saw Saving Private Ryan, but it meant something to me.
Thank you sir. Thank you for posting that. It was totally unexpected. I wept when I read that, my body literally shaking to the point that I couldn't type or do much else. I took a brief walk through my silent house and then through teary eyes I copied that and sent it to my four sons.
I have a fading sign on my den wall. Tiny. Black and white. It says:
For those who fought for it...
Freedom has a flavor The Protected will never know.
I think it is time to take that little sign down now.
Only by standing on your shoulders, can we who did not serve, see the horizon.
You deserve the distinction of honor that that sign conveys.
We cannot begin to understand, even though we stand in silence and appreciation today, and every day.
John Bernard Martin II, F-8J ramp strike South China Sea, Oct 1970 (cousin);
Eric Hertzberg, Marine, shot by sniper in Anbar 2006 (nephew);
LT Kercher,LT Brown, LT Pies, PO Snyder, PO Watson, SN Smith (PO Huff survives),
Guys I couldn't get to in time flying: (VMA-533)Cox, Shindelheim, Gonzalez;
Guys I couldn't find: Hebdon, Sully;
Guys gone in the flash of an eye: (USS Ranger) MM1 Johnson, MM3 Stomer, BT3 Teichert, MM3 Williams, FN Cochran, FN Chappell (All Saints' Day 1983),
Guys that didn't make it out of their sub I was working: LT Everts, PO3 Lindgren, PO1 Bordelon;
Guy who survived the enemy, died of cancer, Mike Marcino.
Our prayers are with you and your families.