A WINDOW OPEN
refused to leave,
we caught it lingering just
outside the kitchen window;
squeezing sweat from our brows,
gluing legs to chairs and keeping
under the shadow
of a weeping willow.
Could he hear mama crying
over news about Johnny?
Or notice family and friends
stopping by to eat
chicken and pecan pie
while paying respects?
I wonder if
he looked into
her cloudy eyes, red as
when she told Johnny and
how he lost his mind,
blaming it on what some
couldn't admit was a war.
I'm sure he heard the words,
"Your son is missing in Iraq,"
I swore he asked the uniformed
man, with eyes as kind and red as hers,
"after you find my son, please look
for both my legs, they can't be
from where he is now"
Mama blamed the rising temperature,
go inside and don't argue;
I tried to convince her he finally
almost a year;
things heating up fast round here.
My heart's breaking
for my brother,
so tonight I'll open his window,
hoping he'll climb back
finally rest in peace after
sneaking out and joining the
on his last birthday.
Not fair to blame him for that,
for him to do around here,
except to weep for eighteen years
shadow of his purple hearted hero.
BY: Carla Procida
I was at Fort Knox during the Vietnam War-- I was a Chaplain's Assistant. I talked
to quite a number of men who returned from Vietnam. They wondered why everyone
hated them. They also were not right in their minds. I listened a lot, and we
talked-- not much progress could be made in a short time. Some Vietnam Vets got
over it, but some did not.
they are still out there around your neighborhood. They sit in a chair in the
corner of a run down house-- never could keep a job. No one comes to visit because
they are bad company. Even now, some of them will dive under a table if someone
snaps a stick. Some sit in aging single wides out in the Michigan woods with a
twelve gauge shotgun across their knees and an old dog sitting next to them--
no friend, not a word for their neighbors, waiting, waiting.........
fought a war our leaders never intended to win, and they paid a terrible price.
Who cares? Do you? Oh, you wave the flag on July 4 and salute the flag in the
church house and may even pledge allegiance to the flag. What about those old
soldiers who still cannot think about the future they fear?
know a Black brother who had a brother who went to Vietnam. He was in bad shape
mentally. My friend took care of his brother, and the Vet had to be watched because
if he saw someone coming across the field out back, he ran for his gun and got
ready for a "fire fight". The Vet was taken under the wing of his brother
and a Black lady who knew him. She took him to a Black church in central Tennessee,
and they took him in. The last I heard, he had confessed his faith in Christ and
was singing duets with the lady who brought him into the fold........ and later
married him. Read, and think....... Is your church door open to them, and do they
know it? Who has ever told them?
attended a church in Tennessee where the preacher gave altar calls at every service.
One Sunday morning an older fellow sent forward wailing and distraught. The preacher
talked quietly with him, and then the preacher asked all the men in the church
to come forward and pray with the man. I had never seen such a thing before. We
all did so, and all of us were laying hands on him or holding an arm etc. I did
not understand what exactly was going on. Was the man confessing faith in Christ,
or was he tormented by devils? I learned later-- he was a Vietnam Vet, and he
needed these visits to the altar once in a while-- he needed to have men around
him showing they cared-- he needed to know Christ was there and still loved him.
The thing that blessed me was that the preacher always let this man have this
time with the Lord. It was disruptive, but it was sweet to see a church that had
time for a soldier wounded in the mind.
Letter from a Vietnam Veteran in Response to the above poem:
Van Nattan's comments that follow this poem - and every single poem on this webpage
- touched my heart in ways some who read here may not understand.
I participated in the SouthEast Asia War Games in 1966, 1968 and 1972. That "conflict"
was divided into five campaigns between 1964 and 1973. My VietNam Service Ribbon
has four campaign stars attached, indicating that I was there in every one of
those campaigns. During those troubles, I picked up two Presidential Unit Citations,
three Commendation Medals and a Bronze Star.
During those troubles, I saw things that, even now, sometimes creep into my dreams
and waken me. I virtually "live" in a room that I added on the rear of our home.
I eat, sleep and take my meals here, coming out only to use the bathroom, visit
the hospital or join in Friday evening family gatherings. On very rare occasions,
I "go someplace," but only where there are family present. Saturday before last,
for example, I went to my daughter's ranch to teach my grandson how to shoot and
maintain my AK-74 and 1911 Government Model Colt pistol.
I am not frightened or afraid. I do not live in fear. In fact, by God's grace
I am quite contented most of the time. I suppose that I know no one is going to
come into my house uninvited - we have iron "burgler bars" on the windows and
doors. Nevertheless, as I type, I know that my 9mm Sig-Sauer P226 is in my right
hand desk drawer, loaded and ready.
The only time I am comfortable sitting outside the house is when it rains, for
I know that no one will be coming to visit. I also am comfortable outdoors, sitting
on my patio, when it is dark, for the same reason. I learned long ago that darkness
can be a friend, covering me from hostile eyes.
I spent a year or so getting "help," but the shrinks both told me that there is
nothing really wrong with me; that I am not psychotic and only a little bit neurotic.
I do not suffer with depression - except every now and then. They released me
from their patient lists and told me that I did not need either counselling or
medication. Social Security and Veterans Administration carry me as being 80%disabled,
though a lot of that has to do with the damage to my kidnetys.
I don't believe that I am dangerous to anyone. When no one else is home to answer
the doorbell, I go to see who is calling - with my hand behind my back, holding
the Sig. But I will not answer the telephone.
I am just another guy who earned the privilege of being able to say that our recent
and present Federal Administrations are destroying the very fabric of the America
I inherited from my forefathers and grew up in.
And now I have made my "confession" to you all and wish for you to know that,
had not our Lord and Savior rescued me by granting me the gifts of regeneration
and saving faith, I could be a greatly different person.
we said back in 1968, he was "in the real 'Nam...."
Napolitano tells us these men are dangerous. Perhaps there is no greater crime
committed by the Obama Administration than to classify our combat Veterans as
dangerous, possible terrorists. I must stop, for my emotions will send me off
into unbecoming speech....
letter from a Vet who read the above letter from a Vietnam Vet. I may have to
make a special forum page of this poem.
is really something. Some of those poor guys have been fighting that war now for
45 years, and not very many of them get to find peace and take part in the "armistice"
like that brother (above) in Christ did.
I wouldn't presume to be a philosopher on this subject, because even though I
was in the military I wasn't in a war. But I think that combat soldiers have enemies
on all sides for life. They have enemies in battle who are trying to kill them,
and then in peacetime they become the enemies of the bureaucracy that sent them
to war, because they can understand the horrors and the hypocrisy like very few
people can. Then, on top of that, the world tries to glamorize war and glamorize
the heroics of individual men, while spitting on a poor, maimed combat soldier
at the same time.
I have a paperback book that I have had since I was a kid. The title is "Through
The Valley of the Kwai". It was written by a Scotchman named Ernest Gordon, who
was a prisoner of the Japanese for several years. He worked on the Kwai river
bridge and the railroad made famous by the movie "Bridge Over the River Kwai."
In his book, he says that the movie was a farce and a lie. In the movie, the British
soldiers willingly built the railroad and the bridge to prove that they were superior
to the Japanese. It all made for great drama when British commandos were sent
to blow up the very bridge that British soldiers had built.
Ernest Gordon said that the Japanese beat, tortured, and starved the British soldiers
at every turn. There was NO cooperation. The British soldiers were lashed with
whips. They were forced to drink water until they were bloated, and then stomped
on until they died. They would be handed dynamite by a Japanese engineer, told
where to place it near some rocky outcropping that needed to be broken down so
the bridge could be built, and then before they got to where they were supposed
to place the dynamite, the Japanese engineer would blow them up. If they stole
a piece of bread because they were starving, and got caught, the Japanes would
execute them publicly with a samurai sword. The British soldiers not only did
NOT try to build a fantastic bridge, but they tried to sabotage the bridge every
chance they had, and paid dearly for trying to REMAIN IN THE FIGHT AND REMAIN
SOLDIERS, as it was their duty to do. It was quite a different scenario than the
Ernest Gordon nearly died of dysentery in the Japanese prison camps, and thousands
of other soldiers did die---from disease, from torture, from starvation, from
out and out murder. When the war was ended, and Gordon finally got back home,
they had a lot of trouble getting the troop ships, loaded with soldiers, many
of whom were sick and wounded and crippled, into port. The dock workers were on
strike because they didn't think they were getting paid enough.
It's no wonder that the survivors get cynical.
In Christ, Art
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