This video is one of many that have been put together backed by the song, “Home” by Gary Puckett and The Union Gap back from the late 60s. We offer it here as a meditation on those who served and continue to serve the country in times of war and times of peace.
Look into the young faces you will see here. We were all so young then. This was true for almost all of our veterans in every war since our beginning. The average age of the Vietnam soldier, sailor, airman and Marine was 19. At that young age our eyes beheld such things, such unimaginable things that would remain with us for the rest of our lives. Our hearts, minds, and souls absorbed horrors that few ever have to endure.
Our bodies endured heat so torrid it made simple breathing a matter of hard labor, or cold so intense that it numbed and crippled us. Dirt and grime, rashes and exotic diseases were daily realities. We often experienced exhaustion so deep that we thought we could not go on and, yet, we kept on walking, climbing, hacking our way through the jungle covered mountains, and we fought with wild ferocity when the fight came to us.
Too often, our bodies felt the rip and pain of bullets or shrapnel tearing into them.
We knew fear and we knew anger, but most of all we knew the depth of our love and commitment to the brothers beside us . We could fall asleep anywhere, in any position, on any surface in the blink of an eye, yet still be on full alert in a flash.
All of us yearned to be home, back home in “The World,” for we knew only too well that we were somehow no longer in it, caught up as we were in the wild wizardry of war. But we fought like lions beside and for one another in the midst of battle and played with abandon like the teenagers we were, when we were in the rear and somewhat out of danger.
The young men and women who have served the nation, from the Revolution to the present, can relate to the images and the descriptions above. All of this we did in service to the Constitution and the ideals enumerated in it and, most profoundly, to the idea of freedom. The cost of this freedom is very high, both personally and to the nation, but it has been willingly paid by generations of men and women for the good of all, since 1775.
Most of us were too young and wet behind the ears to think in such noble terms back then, but our service, along with that of some 48 million who have served the country since 1775 at Lexington and Concord, has kept this experiment in government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” alive and secure for 245 years.
This coming Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020, take time to remember and to honor what our veterans have done for our nation. This is why we celebrate Veterans Day (and Memorial Day) each year. It is right and just and proper to remember and to honor all those who chose, and those who continue to choose to put themselves “on the line” to protect and defend the Constitution and all those who are free under it.
Consider the reason why we observe Veterans Day while you watch the video below.
Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.