In the time of morning, just before dawn. Comes a time of remembering
I find myself laying in bed and remembering. The friends that have come and gone. Some stand out better than others and with veterans day coming and all the threat of war in the news brings my thoughts to two men I have known. That to me helped give a reason to the time I spent in Vietnam.
One of these men was an old man, when I meant him. He had been born in Hanoi and came south when a boy to work in the rubber plantations. He had started as a rubber tapper and worked his way to shipper in his lifetime. The only name I new him by was Mr.Tuo. I had known him about a month when he came to me taking both my hands in his and said thank you for coming to help my country be free. There is much to his story of how he ran south to be free so he could make his own choices in life. He said this could not be done if he had stayed in the north.
The other man we will call Nate. A fisherman who was drafted away from his ocean and free way of life to serve his country.
Nate and I were drafted at the same time although from different parts of the state. We both had to go to Portland, Oregon for our induction into the go old U.S. Army. First stop Fort Ord California. There we got to know each other. We went to basic and advanced training together. It was during advanced Infantry training we were having a hard time with the training. All the men there knew they were going to Vietnam and seemed a little bitter about being drafted out of their home life and put in the Army. On weekends we would all go to the EM Club and tell stories about where we had been what we had done and what we would do after we got out of the army. One subject that always came up was how we had all been cheated by being drafted just at the wrong time to fit in with our civilian lives. It was one of these nights that I turned to Nate and asked him. Nate you never say much about being drafted arenít you bitter about giving up your way of life to be drafted into the Army?
He looked at me for a minute and Then said , I was lucky enough to be born in the United States Of America and I feel I have lived my life in freedom. Be the government right or wrong it is not up to me to choice. They have asked for my help for two years of my life. I find this a small price to pay. After I am though serving my country I can go back and start my life over again because those that have gone before me have kept our country free. And I am proud to serve my country.
The unspoken though we all new was that some of us would not return.
Less than two months after our talk Nate was killed while on patrol in Vietnam. He was leading a patrol down a jungle path when a sniper took him out. I was not there with him, but was told three weeks later when I joined the same unit, he never new what hit him. I am sure he was proud to the last he was serving his country.
Donít take your freedom for granted. Many donít have what you do. Many have paid a large price so you can have it.
Think About it!