Today is Memorial Day in the United States. While it seems to have been taken over by barbecues and retail sales, it is actually a time to pause and remember. My generation of boys had no choice about being sent to Viet Nam. They were drafted and sent. If they were still in college, they were drafted after they graduated.
I had gone to college with a gentle and loving boy Tom. We served together bringing academic enrichment to young people in the town. He was drafted right after graduation and went to Viet Nam.
Tom survived the battles and came back home. He couldn’t survive the horrors that stayed with him. He took his life in 1972. With a gun. Knowing him, it probably seemed to be evening things out somewhat for the atrocities he was forced into. Not all the losses are inscribed on the wall at the Viet Nam Memorial in Washington, D.C. Tom was killed as surely as those who died overseas.
Peace to all veterans still scarred from the wars they were forced into. Peace to all veterans who “chose” to enlist when faced with economic hardship and limited employment opportunities. Peace to all veterans who went willingly to defend our country and found themselves in the middle of other peoples’ wars.