Memorial Day: Michael, you're not forgotten...

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Rick Courtright

Hawkeye
Joined
Mar 10, 2002
Messages
7,815
Location
Redlands CA USA
Hi,

I know you old-timers will remember this straight away, but many of the new guys might not have seen it. Just like today and tomorrow, people were in a hurry to get out of town. I can't speak for the rest of this part of the world, but in my little corner, cabin fever seems to be a powerful force. Wolfsong wrote this, in honor of a brother lost in Viet Nam, while being a bit disappointed at how so many people think this holiday is all about BBQs and such. Yes, they have a part, but we mustn't forget the bigger picture.

So with that, once again Wolfsong's been gracious enough to let me post his letter this year for all of us to read, enjoy, and think about. I'm sure that war touched enough of you to take this letter into your hearts for your own remembrances. Enjoy!

Rick C

From Wolfsong:

I wrote this post after listening to many people at work ( I work for the Dept. of Corrections at a women's prison) making their plans for the Memorial Day weekend. Many were complaining that the lakes, highways and campgrounds would be crowded, and I couldn't help thinking of our cemeteries crowded with our fallen soldiers. I didn't hear ONE person acknowledge or give mention of the price that so many have paid to allow them this "paid" holiday, and I thought "you selfish bastards". So I came home and wrote this tribute letter. It's kind of long, I hope you don't mind.

Peace and God bless, Wolfsong.

---

About the letter - man, the requests (which I appreciate) to pass it on are coming in in droves. And so I say to you that if my words and sentiments can be of positive benefit to others, by all means use them as you see fit. There are some who have cautioned me that my words may be plagerized, but you and I and others know their origins so it doesn't bother me. Please keep the letter intact - it should stand on its own, in its entirety, in my humble opinion. And it is o.k. to use my screen name. Should someone you know wish to contact me, I would appreciate you being the go between. I have been contacted by others regarding the possible publishing of the letter, and perhaps some doors will open regarding other writings of mine. Who knows... At any rate, please pass the letter along to the wonderful Angel you briefly introduced. I am confident that she will put my words to good use. The next time you happen to see her, would you give her a hug for me? I would appreciate it...

---

Michael, my brother, I'm thinking about you this Memorial Day weekend, as I think of you just about every day. You answered our country's call, and off to Viet Nam you went, to fight in a real war, with real guns and real bullets, while I was playing with my toy guns and wearing dad's old Army trench coat and campaign hat from the 101st Airborne. How I envied you and wished I was going off to fight with you, thinking that this is what brothers do. I was so sad when you left without me. I thought you didn't like me anymore and didn't want to play with me again. I didn't understand or even began to think that there was such a huge gap between 12 and 18. I didn't see it that way - you were my brother, we were both boys, and our dad was the man of the house.

I remember the times that you and I would watch the old World War II movies with dad, and how much us kids enjoyed the heroics of John Wayne and Audie Murphy. I remember how quiet dad was while we watched, but I didn't pay it much attention. I remember that after you left to go fight without me that dad stopped watching the news. Dad always watched the news. I didn't ask him why he stopped watching; actually I was happy, because that meant I didn't have to watch some old boring newscaster talking about stuff I couldn't understand. Now I know why he wouldn't watch. He did not want the reminder staring him in the face that you were in harm's way, doing your duty and serving our great country. I know he was proud of you, but I also know now that he was afraid.

Dad would never show his fear to us, of course. He was that old, tough Swede cattle rancher who was a walking God to us as we grew up. He could do no wrong, he could fix, build, heal, and do anything. And you and I both worshiped him. Little did I know that he was merely a man who held fear in his heart, a fear that was born when he jumped into Normandy on that June day in 1944 and a fear that continued to grow with each successive day that he spent fighting in that terrible war.

I suppose that he conquered that fear, if that is possible for a man to do, or at least he buried it deep down in some place that he never showed to us. Looking back, I see that his fear returned when you went off to fight. I see now that his fear consumed him, because it was a helpless fear, one that he could not overcome, because he was merely a spectator from far away, powerless to change it. But I didn't see that back then. I saw, instead, a father who grew quiet, and a brother who left me behind. I resented you both for a little while, but as young boys do, I found other friends and adventures to replace those things that were changed and lost to me.

It's not that I stopped loving you; after all, you were my brother. But I did resent you and your great adventure. For awhile, you still teased me in your letters from boot camp and training camp, but gradually the teasing stopped after you shipped out. You spoke instead of my responsibility to take your place as the protector of our sisters while you were gone. You spoke of my duty to help dad more and to be a good boy for mom. And then your letters didn't come any more.

I remember the day when dad told me the news that you had died in Viet Nam. It is the only time I saw dad cry. I tried not to cry, I tried to be strong for you and for dad, but I did cry, Mike. I cried for you and for dad. And for me, little selfish me, who was mad at you for leaving me behind once, and for leaving me behind again.

That was many years ago. Dad and mom are both gone, and I am the man of the family now. I often think of the lessons learned from you and dad. I still have the baseball glove that you bought me for my 12th birthday. A Willie Mays model. I guess you got tired of me always borrowing your glove, or maybe you figured that I had earned it. I'd like to think that I earned it, in your eyes.

I'd like to think that I have been a good protector for our sisters. I'd like to think that you and dad approve of what I've done with all that you both have taught me. I'd like to think of both of you as my heroes still. I'd like to think that you wished I was with you for at least one moment of one day back in 1969. I wished that I was there for that moment. Because I wanted to tell you one more time that I loved you, brother.

I know now how it feels to be helpless with fear, like dad was when you left. I know now what it feels like to be powerless to protect at all times those whom you love. I know now what it feels like to lose the life of one so close, and so young, and be powerless to prevent it. I know now what mom and dad felt when you came home wrapped in our flag. I didn't really know it then, I was so young. But now I know.

Most of all, I know the sacrifice that you and so many others have made for those of us who have never had to pick up a weapon and defend those who couldn't defend themselves, whether it was Americans, or Vietnamese, or Frenchmen or Englishmen. I know now that EVERY day should be a memorial to all of those who have fallen in service. I know that I miss you still, and I know that I cry for you, brother.

Monday, Memorial Day, I will fly each flag of our grandfather's, our father's and yours. I don't know if that is against protocol or not; I don't care. I am proud of all of you, I am proud to be your grandson, son, brother.

But I am most proud of you, Mike. You gave your life for so many. I cherish my memories of you, I salute your comrades, and I honor you and your fallen hero brothers and sisters. I should have done this a long, long time ago.

God bless you, brother. God bless all of those who have died for this great country. God bless all of those who defend us now. God bless America.

Peace and God bless, your brother.
 

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contender

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Joined
Sep 18, 2002
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Lake Lure NC USA
Having read this many times,, I was quietly awaiting it's return.

Once again,, "Thanks" wolfsong,, and let us all NOT forget what Memorial Day truly means.
 

Ray Newman

Single-Sixer
Joined
Jun 3, 2006
Messages
483
Location
WA ST
Since Memorial Day -- Decoration Day as it was once known -- is about & for those who made the Supreme Sacrifice, lest I forget those I served with in Echo-2-12:

PFC David L Felt , USMC, DOB 04/05/46, Sacramento, CA KIA 08/17/65
Lt. Peter Paul Domiano, USMC, DOB 10/18/43, Industry, NY KIA 07/01/66
PFC Billy Dean Nelson, USMC, DOB 06/30/47, Lommis, NE KIA 07/20/66
PCF Bradley Alan Pearson, USMC, DOB 11/27/46,Clear Lake, WI KIA 07/20/66

And most of all:
PFC John Alton Girod JR, USMC, DOB 06/14/44, Denham Springs, LA KIA 02/21/66

The German song "Ich hatte einen Kameraden" --"I had a comrade" is played on German Remembrance Day . Part of it goes:

A bullet flew towards us
meant for me or meant for you?
It took him away,
he lies beneath my feet
like a piece of myself.


In the case of Johnny, if it wasn't for him, it would have hit me....
 
Joined
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Messages
9,343
Location
Woodbury, Tn
Rick and Wolfsong, I appreciate the reality that is expressed in this tome. I didn’t go, but classmates of mine did, and one paid the ultimate price too. RIP Roy Fickling.
gramps
 

contender

Ruger Guru
Joined
Sep 18, 2002
Messages
21,179
Location
Lake Lure NC USA
Every year,, I re-read Wolfie's letter. More than once.
I always get that same deep feeling that many do.
My brother went,, doing (2) tours. I was also too young to go. It ended prior to my enlistment.
Yet,, I always felt a felt a difference with my fellow soldiers whom I served with who had also been there. Most never said much,, yet,, I also got advice from many about how to survive in combat.
I was always proud of my brother,, and my Dad,, (who had served in WWII,) yet, also feeling like I didn't measure up,, because I didn't serve in combat.
Luckily,, my brother once told me in all seriousness; "Be glad you didn't see combat, and I'm grateful you didn't. But I still love you & respect you as a fellow soldier."

So,, while I didn't lose my brother,, I still feel the loss of wolfies brother,, and all the fallen from our history.
At least,, I can stand with other Veterans,, and know,,,, I was willing,, yet lucky to never experience it.

We never forget the fallen.
 

Snake Pleskin

Buckeye
Joined
Mar 26, 2022
Messages
1,419
Location
Aiken, South Carolina
Every year,, I re-read Wolfie's letter. More than once.
I always get that same deep feeling that many do.
My brother went,, doing (2) tours. I was also too young to go. It ended prior to my enlistment.
Yet,, I always felt a felt a difference with my fellow soldiers whom I served with who had also been there. Most never said much,, yet,, I also got advice from many about how to survive in combat.
I was always proud of my brother,, and my Dad,, (who had served in WWII,) yet, also feeling like I didn't measure up,, because I didn't serve in combat.
Luckily,, my brother once told me in all seriousness; "Be glad you didn't see combat, and I'm grateful you didn't. But I still love you & respect you as a fellow soldier."

So,, while I didn't lose my brother,, I still feel the loss of wolfies brother,, and all the fallen from our history.
At least,, I can stand with other Veterans,, and know,,,, I was willing,, yet lucky to never experience it.

We never forget the fallen.
Sometime I too feel like I could have done more, even though I was overseas, but never in full fledged combat, but you go where they send you and do what they tell you. it is what it is.
 
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