The traveling replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall came to Hesperia California for Veterans Day and I couldn't wait to wake up Thursday morning, get ready and take off to see this wall, filled with names of soldiers who served our Country during a highly controversial time in our History.
My life long dream is to go to Washington DC to see the Vietnam Memorial Wall, but this would have to do for now.
When I arrived I was shocked to see only a handful of people. I was sure everyone felt the same as I did about the war in Vietnam! I had questions in my mind like, where is everyone?
I wonder if I'm just too early! Maybe more people will be here later! But I had to realize, not everyone is as touched as I am about the Vietnam War.
Looking at the wall I was flooded by memories and felt very patriotic. Vietnam has always struck a deep cord in my soul and is a very sensitive topic with me, and I'm sure it's the same feeling with all who remember or maybe I should say, who cared.
I remembered watching the news on TV which was very important during those times, because they would list our casualties and show the next numbers in the draft list.
These numbers were the next young men being called to duty.
Everyone knew their number and during the announcement, just at that moment, you could almost hear the sighs of relief float through your home, as if the whole world was in one room watching at the same time, and their number wasn't on the list.
I hadn't lost a family member during this particular war, but I lived the nightmare from 1967 till it ended with all who were involved. I say this because whether you knew a person personally or not it didn't matter, everyone was heart broken when hearing about fatalities and grieved for their families.
Looking back, I was a young mother who had lost her son due to birth defects June 1969, and come December 1969 my husband received a letter which started with the beginning sentence:
"Greetings, you have been cordially inducted into the United States Army".
What was really weird about this is, we didn't see his number announced on TV! I was 16 years old, my husband was 18, and both of us were struggling with the thought of being apart, and still grieving the loss of our son. 20% of the draft was offered to Join the Marines and do only a two year stint.
My husband signed with the United States Marine Corps instead of entering the Army and from there on, the paths of our lives changed forever.
Living at 501 Guadalcanal Street Oceanside, California on base was in itself an experience never forgotten. I had two little girls born in the Naval Hospital on base, one born January 28th 1971 and another December 16th 1971, no mistake on the dates! They were both born in the same year. Baby showers were GI's that brought carnation evaporated milk and karo syrup to make formula and little girl gifts they could afford. Believe me it was the best baby showers I ever had.
My husband became a tank instructor, and never did go overseas. I think a higher power kept him stateside which relieved a lot of stress. He was offered $8,000.00 to re-enlist for 6 years with the rank of Sergeant, but he declined the offer and we were out of there!
Our Soldier's finally came home, but only to realize they had touched down into another hell as they departed from their aircraft and headed towards their families. Protesters were yelling, screaming and spitting on soldiers.
Our soldiers couldn't believe what was happening, they were expecting to hear cheering and be greeted as heroes with flags waving, but they soon realized they were being bashed for participating in a war for which they had no choice and was so controversial that even the Government wouldn't title it War!
When they thought they were finally safe at home, many found out they had been breathing 'Agent Orange' in the jungle, a chemical that affected troops on the ground, something the Government didn't speak about, but was rumored.
Many soldiers started having severe debilitating side effects and birth defects in their children which resulted in wide spread news. This caused the Government to step up and release information so Doctors could diagnose and treat the soldiers that were affected.
I will never forget those who lost their lives fighting for our Country or our soldiers who couldn't leave the war behind and had to bring it home!
To all those who served in Vietnam and the Wars before, I give thanks....