Do you ever think about Vietnam, our generation, and not going? I do. Looking back, I wish I had gone. I feel guilty for not doing my part. Never have I been made to feel like I let anyone down nor have any asked why I did not go.
I lost my student deferment and was reclassified I-A, just before the draft lottery 36 years ago. I did not want to go. When my birthday was drawn #343, I thought they would be taking women and children by the time they got to me. I was safe.
I had strong, negative opinions about Vietnam. Much of what formed my opinion was heavily slanted "news." It is the same in today's media. One negative story after another, until a soldier or Marine tells his story. When a soldier, from a hospital, missing a leg, states his goal is to get back with his buddies, I am awestruck. They are experiencing what I cannot imagine. It is nice to be blessed, but it must feel amazing to be "the blessing."
I told my Dad I wish I had gone to Vietnam. His immediate response, "That would have been awful," this based on his war experience. I will never know what he saw and did. After 61 years, he cannot talk about it without shaking, tearing up and his face going red at the fear of being forced to bring back those old and buried memories.
"War is hell." The more I learn, the more impressed I am and humbled by those who go and do the dirty work. We are watching another generation of the greatest young people this country has ever produced.
Now, I am still safe because of what others have done for me and my freedom. I am at the age where I cannot go fight a war, but I can stand up for our troops and appreciate what they are doing for us.
My hat goes off, my cheer grows loud and my hands sting from clapping as I try, in a feeble way, to show just how much I honor and thank them for their willingness to fight. They volunteer to go and stand for freedom. They do what I was afraid to do. They made the choice to take the chance of not coming home.