Vietnam war

I am a non-combatant. I was, in a sense, fortunate not to be drafted into the conflict in Vietnam, yet, now I have learned we all live with the scars. Through the years I have known many friends who served.
I have a friend named Sam, who years ago told me a story of lying in the dark all night, surrounded by the enemy, where he and his buddies held on to each other, wrapped in each others arms, until the sun came up. At the same time I met Brian, who in an ambush while riding in an APC filled his untied boots with hot spent casings from a machine gun, never feeling the burns on his ankle’s until the firefight was over. There is Tommy, who would have died with several others, in his first weeks in country, except for a veteran of combat who told him to take another path into the jungle that day. There is my best friend at work who lost his nephew to a sniper in Baghdad, or my good friend Mike who got his son back from Iraq uninjured physically, but struggled for years to regain the son he raised.
I recently found Claude Anshin Thomas’ book – At Hells Gate – which I now consider required reading for everyone – for all of us, for we all are the wounded generation. We all carry the scars of war, we are all responsible, whether we fight, or not, we must all know these stories in order to break this culture of violence.
Black Elk, the Lakota Medicine Man is known to have said “We must invite the widows to the war parties, in order for us to know the consequences of losing a husband, or a son”. We can no longer afford to deny that violence, that war damages us all.
Thank you to all who have served, I continue to pray for a new generation to bring peace …
Peter Anthony – (grandfathersky)
Link to: Dust Off


21 thoughts on “Vietnam war

  1. Thank you for the reminder as a combat veteran I live with it everyday. I count myself fortunate there are many who did not make it back.
    Also I second the requirement of “At Hells Gate”

  2. I found this a very moving post. I am very lucky in that I have not been touched by war in a personal sense – both my Grandfathers survived WW1, my Father survived WW2. That doesn’t mean that we are not touched all the time by the horrors of the wars around us and the tragic consequences. We were among the <1m who marched against the war in Iraq, not that our government listened.
    I have ordered At Hell's Gate.
    Thank you for this post, dear Grandfathersky.

  3. The first thing that enters my mind as I view this picture is the thought of having to get rid of the leaches that will cling to your arms and legs, your chest and back, while you hope and pray none got in the private area you’d have to strip your clothes off in order to burn the suckers off . . .

    michael j

  4. lost an Uncle in the V.War….It seems like there has always been some kind of war… I pray for us all. I pray for peace …. I pray that someday I will turn on the news and see nothing but good being done in our world…

  5. Claude Anshin Thomas offers meditation retreats at Omega Institute for veterans. Omega is located in up-state New York.

    Please contact them if you could gather with him next April. Scholarships are available, but they get issued quickly until funds run out. Check with them well before February and maybe you’ll see some old buddies there along with me!

    michael j contos,
    Conshohocken, PA USA

    • Even though my words may have the appearance of being there, I was never in service (in this lifetime). I was amazed by his story, and have the utmost respect for all those who served, I have met so many veterans over the years, as you can see their stories have touched me deeply …

  6. My Daddy adopted me when I was 3. I didn’t find out that I had a different, biological father until I was 9-years-old. I have always known him to be a cold, miserable, militant man. I don’t know if he was like that before Vietnam. He was a medic in the 82nd Airborne when he entered the war at just 17 years of age. He has never uttered a word of this to me or my siblings–he won’t–but his friend who was walking through the jungle in front of him stepped on a land mine and was killed instantly. For my Daddy, he really suffered the same fate as his friend…although my Dad’s is really a slow death that’s eaten away at him like a cancer. My Daddy died twice in the helicopter and was injured beyond belief. He was awarded the Purple Heart, but he doesn’t talk about that either. When I was young one of the few good memories that I have of having any sort of closeness to my Dad was when he would ask me to pull hairs from one of the huge scars that covered his side and his back–it looked like someone had taken their fist and just dug a huge handful of flesh right out of his armpit. Anyway, I welcome this time to be close to my Dad…but in my heart I was sad. As time went by the deeply embedded shrapnel from the land mine would work its way to the surface of that scar, particularly in his back. I would help pull it out and pretend not to feel horror and sorrow for him. I only knew about all that had happened because he had told my mother, and she told me. I know that he had night terrors. He is very depressed and I know he has PTSD. He’d never get help or admit it. He refuses to take the license plate that those who have been awarded the Purple Heart get to have… He loves this country and our military more than he ever loved me. I don’t know what happened to my Daddy over there. My oldest son is 17 today. My Daddy was 17 when he almost died and watched his friend die. I cannot fathom that. And what I really cannot fathom is how or why those who served in Vietnam were not thanked or hailed at heroes, but rather were treated like pure garbage. All these poor, homeless people I see around town…many with severe mental issues and missing limbs. Those guys were our soldiers. How is that possible? I lost my Dad before I was ever born. I don’t know if he will ever recover. I don’t even know my Dad. The war didn’t just cause him unspeakable pain and agony…it caused 6 of his children and 4 of his wives to suffer immensely. Thank you for writing about Vietnam, Grandpappy. I am thankful that you honored these incredible men and women. I wish I could just love them all and heal their hearts. 😦

    All my love,

    • Ava – Your love for your father seems boundless, and yes, it is a terrible thing we do to these men and woman, I have met so many, and see in their eyes the scars they carry for us. War is a horror, those who have never been there can not even imagine – it is Dante’s Inferno times 10 thousand. Your love heals him, in ways you may never see, and it heals all of those affected. By changing our own lives we change the world. I will keep your father in my thoughts and prayers – and of course you are always … Thanks you for sharing this, it shows the strength of your character … Always -gfs

  7. Even hearing my father’s stories and knowing how he was haunted by the wars he fought in, I’m tempted to keep distance from the wars since. Maybe that’s part of how they continue, by distancing the general public and the decision makers from the horrors of war. I agree that the widows should attend the “war parties.” I keep wondering when we humans will adjust our priorities and help our moral progress catch up with our technological advancements.

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