by Deacon Michael Douglas, Vietnam Veteran
“This is the day we pay homage to all those who didn’t come home. This is not Veterans Day, it’s not a celebration, it is a day of solemn contemplation over the cost of freedom.” Tamra Bolton
Historically, young men and women have joined the military over the years for many reasons. Love of country, seeking an education or a better life.
Whatever the initial reason, our reasons for committing to military service might change over time. We start to appreciate serving our country and develop bonds with our fellow soldiers through experiences we could not have imagined in our wildest dreams.
At some point, those bonds are as strong as love from our own families. That never goes away and is difficult to understand if you haven’t lived it. Veterans share a brotherhood, unlike any other.
I arrived back in the States after a 12-month tour of duty in Viet Nam. I felt dazed and confused. I had a hard time understanding how life back home went on as normal, when just the previous week, I was a physical & mental wreck living in a combat zone, with the overwhelming desire to come home alive.
I left behind friends and brothers and was so grateful to arrive safely in my hometown of Appleton, WI. I was shocked when a few weeks later, I got a letter, telling me my closest friend, had died. I posted a tribute to him online years later.
14 Sep 2004
You were my friend, Scott, and when I heard you had died a month after I left the country, I couldn’t believe it. I assumed that we’d both get out alive and be able to meet and laugh together again. Thanks for helping me get through my year, God I was happy to leave. I’m only sorry I wasn’t there to help you as well.
I don’t know the circumstances of your death but wish I did. I’m troubled by it, even after all these years. I miss you and think of you often, almost every day. You represent the lost youth in all of us….. we that survived grew old before our time. I feel like part of my heart is missing when I think of you and our 58,000 brothers.
I remember you fondly…. and the friendship we shared. Today I try to live my life honorably, because I live for you as well, my friend. We’ll meet again someday … with a tear and a laugh and a hug!