Wednesday, June 1, 2011

My Memorial Day

I went to a concert then I visited my stepfather's gravesite. He was a WW II and a Korean veteran.

In days long past, Memorial Day did not have the personal impact on me
that it does today. I did not permit the emotions connected to that day to enter my life.
However, on this day, I would like to share something here that I have never shared with anyone before other than my children.
 But first let me say that this Blog is not about me and it never will be. I write for the benefit of my children and the children of this nation...PERIOD.

I sat in stunned silence yesterday as I watched two incompetent boobs in Congress (Rep. Jeff Miller-R, and Rep. Filner-D) patting each other on the back for letting a few more veterans through the door to review their disability claims with a Management Amendment to HR 1484.
More than a million vets are currently awaiting an antiquated and burdensome appeals process that forces them to wade through a growing bureaucratic swamp.
Both sides of the aisle agree that these men and women should be given top priority and have their claims accepted with the existing evidence.
Many are suffering from the effects of depleted uranium exposure which the Defense Dept. does not even acknowledge.
A growing number of veterans are suffering from one of many "war weariness syndromes"; that in order to apply for; a member of a military unit must admit to being mentally ill.
This only adds to the discomfiture and ostracizing of the afflicted vet.
One in four homeless persons in America is a veteran. With home ownership at it's newest low since the financial (housing) bubble collapse vets are not able to find affordable housing. I know a couple myself and have helped them to find homes through the generous efforts of landlords here locally. The vets are willing to work and do not want handouts.
I was even more appalled when I heard of Secretary Gates' remarks last week. He stated that "In this time of budget constraints, America must be ready to reevaluate military pay scales, retirement benefits and medical coverage."
Then on his Memorial Day address he stated "In order to honor the memories of our fallen commerades we must be able to make the right decisions and set the right priorities in the future."

Well, here is the last letter my mother received from my real father before he returned home from Korea. One more rambling missive was included where he stated that "We are not cowards." I believe that he was guilty for having to leave the South Korean men who he had trained while in country to the ravages of the Chinese when he left.

He's Coming Home

Issued in happy warning this===day of===.

Lock your daughters in their rooms!!
Fill up the ice box with cold beer!!
Get those civies out of moth balls!

Dear civilians,

Very soon the above mentioned will be once more in your midst, dehydrated, demobilized, and demoralized, to take his place once more as a human being with freedom and justice for all; engaged in life' liberty, and the somewhat delayed pursuit of happiness. In making your joyous preparation to welcome him back into organized society; which he will soon disorganize; you must make allowances for his crude environment which has been his miserable lot of many months.In a word he might be a little Asiatic, suffering from Japanese Odorosis or a little too much ASAHI. Therefor show no alarm if he prefers to squat on his haunches instead of sitting in a chair; insists on taking off his shoes before entering a house; or has a tendency to bow when meeting or saying goodbye to someone.Keep cool when he pours gravy over his dessert at the dinner table; insists on chopsticks instead of silverware; or prefers fish heads and rice to T-bone steak. Take it with a smile when he answers all your questions by saying "Yes" when he sometimes means "No". Be tolerant when he drags his mattress off the bed and puts it on the floor to sleep. Don't let it shock you if; when he is talking on the phone he says"Moshi Moshi" instead of "Hello" and "Sayonara" instead of "Goodbye".

Never ask him why the Smith boy held a higher rate than he did, and make no flattering remarks about the Air Force or Navy, and above all never mention "re-upping". For the first few months "until he becomes housebroken" be especially watchful when he is in the company of women, particularly the young and beautiful specimens. After many months of seeing beautiful women wooed by handsome men in the movies, he considers himself a master of the arts, and his intentions will all be dishonorable but sincere. Keep in mind that beneath his tanned and rugged exterior there beats a heart of gold. Treasure this, For after many months of continuous poker and crap games, the souvenir trips and other trips (ahem) , it will probably be the only thing of value he has left. With kindness, tolerance, and money, and an occasional quart of good liquor (never place Tories whisky or Yoku in front of him) you will again be able to rehabilitate that which is now a hollow shell of the happy civilian you once knew.

P.S.  Send no more letters c/o PM APO Kokura ;
Get the kids off the streets, cause he's heading home.


A couple of months after returning home my father bought a house on the block across from the one I bought years afterward.
A few weeks later, and a few weeks before my birth he shot himself in the head with a 38.

I have lost a couple of friends in similar fashion since they returned from Viet Nam.  I think that I will go back and listen to some of my old anti war music again right now. 


Gorges Smythe said...

We haven't fought a war to win it since World War II, due to crackpot politicians. The toll on the military personnel is just as bad or worse, though.

Woodsterman (Odie) said...

There was a similar letter going around Vietnam. I have always considered myself one of the lucky ones when I came back. My wife mentions on occasion that she's amazed how normal I seem. I think she is starting to change her mind now. Who could be normal and call them self Woodsterman.

We can't allow OUR government to treat our veterans like yesterday's embarrassment. WE must All apply pressure.

Scott said...

Some reasearch shows definititably that experiments were being done on our troops using STD's, immunizations, and chemical weapons. These personel deserve hearings and compensation. Good luck with this one though. These programs were conducted during the Bush administration. Now, to be compensated at all you must apply for a mental reason.
Victory is for losers George! The Dear Leader says so. The UN must authorize all disputes in the future. God help us.
I never wanted to be "normal" Odie. I do my best to live that reputation down. I love dragging others kicking and screaming into reality though.