My dad fought in the Vietnam War. He was part of the United States Army.
I wish I could say I know more, but I don’t. I have never heard stories of his time serving. I have never seen pictures or held medals that he earned. He never came to my school and talked to my classmates about his experiences. I don’t know how many years he served… If he went voluntarily or if he was drafted.
I know that upon his return, he was spit on and called a baby killer.
I wonder what hurt more? Knowing he was, but had no choice, or looking forward to the comfort of home, only to be greeted without compassion.
In my almost 38 years, its the only information about the war he has ever volunteered. Never in sadness, always with hurt and anger.
I wonder what he was like before he went. Did the war change him? Did the protesters? What did he see? Hear? Feel?
Some say he is one of the lucky ones, because he came back. I wonder how lucky he felt. I wonder if his nightmares ever made him wish he was one of the ones that wasn’t “lucky”?
Memorial Day has always been painful for him. He has said “they didn’t honor me then, why honor me now?”
I don’t know, dad. I don’t know why some people were so awful to you then. On days like today, I
remember and thank you, and everyone like you for what you did, for what we gained, and what you lost.
I wish it had been different. I wish I knew more. I don’t. I thank you anyway.