Each time our service members are honored my mind seems to flash back to a time when we were fearful of admitting to strangers that dad was a military man. The year was 1972, and the Vietnam War was winding down. Perhaps it was because this country had a draft where boys, just eighteen, were being sent off to fight halfway around the world. I’m not sure, I was probably too young to know exactly why, but I do remember the war was very unpopular. I remember seeing demonstrations against the war on television. Actors, actresses, musicians, and such were speaking out against all the country was doing over there. Whatever the reasons, my family was fearful of letting any strangers know that Daddy was a Master Sergeant in the US Army and was now heading to Vietnam.
I remember my mom, brother and I taking dad to the airport to see him off. We were alone and afraid to let on to anyone our reason for being there. I remember us all crying as we said our goodbyes and wearing sunglasses as we left the airport. It seemed like such a long walk back out of that airport, and I was trying so hard to be strong.
Those wouldn’t be the only tears we’d shed that year. It was especially hard on my mom, for she was left behind to once again raise us on her own and worry whether she’d ever see dad again. Dad did his best to parent from thousands of miles away, and I still have some of his letters to prove it, but you miss so much when you’re thousands of miles away from one another.
Daddy did make it back from Vietnam, but I don’t think anyone can be subject to the horrors of war without it impacting you. He made it home though, and we all did our best to get back to being a family once more. The sacrifices we made were minimal compared to those who had lost their loved ones or those who had suffered injuries.
Despite the struggles we continue to have in this country, I still believe this is the greatest country in the world. I will forever place my right hand over my heart and salute our flag not only because of my dad,