The Vietnam war was ongoing for the first 12 years of my life. I watched the war on the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. That was the news source which my family followed while we were growing up. I watched the war go from black and white to “in color” as the 60’s passed and the 70’s became my childhood stomping grounds.
The interviews of muddy soldiers with torn uniforms and helmets askew were the suppertime soundtrack of those years and it was always followed by Cronkite’s perfectly delivered, “That’s the way it is.” Many of you do not recall this but it really did have a comforting sound after watching all that carnage on the RCA floor model XL-100 .
While I did not understand it all, it scared me. I knew that I didn’t want to be there and I was glad my dad wasn’t.
My uncle Larry went. Larry is my dad’s youngest brother and we went to the Armory in Auburn to see him off when he left for Vietnam.
My dad let me tag along when we picked him up at the Portland Jetport upon his return home over a year later. I was in awe of his uniform and that he survived that horrible place. The place that I had been intently watching when my mom didn’t shoo me away from the television.
Uncle Larry patted me on the head when he came up the ramp from the jet. Sitting in the back seat of the blue Galaxy on the way home I listened to my father and my uncle Larry talk about the war, the friends he lost, the heat, and being so happy to be back. I was just a kid, and kids were not expected to be involved in such a conversation, but I was glad he made it home to America.
By the way I still refer to it as America, not the United States, in conversations. That’s what my family called it. That was the term we used when we sang patriotic songs in school and I still like to say it. Just plain old America. It actually does have a nice ring to it. I’ve had a pretty good run here probably more thanks to veterans than any other one factor.
For Vietnam Veteran’s Day we just want to thank all of you who served. Nope, it’s not much. The vast majority of us hope that time and distance has allowed healing of some of the wounds you felt. Whether physical, emotional, or spiritual, we understand your injuries far more now than we did then.
Time and distance; here’s to a continuous increase in both for all of you.
Keep your hands to yourself, leave other people’s things alone, and be kind to one another.
We will be here. Call if you need us.
P.S. Thanks for your support for my writing page — Tim Cotton Writes. I had originally put this together to place over there, but felt it was more important today to share it a little more widely. Thank you to all veterans; while it is wonderful to commemorate a special day for our Vietnam heroes, we want to thank all who have served.
This post was originally published on March 29, 2019 on Bangor Maine Police Department Facebook page.