April 14

I have a number of anniversaries, some shared, some not. Some are joyous, some not. Some are made to be celebrated. Others, well, probably not. I spoke to an old friend today, recalling a day that was meaningful to us. It was an exciting day, a day that began a huge adventure that would change our lives forever.

This feels like a melancholy piece. Since I published Just Let Me Walk Away about my experiences in Vietnam, it seems everything I write is about that. That is not so but it often seems like it. I am not feeling badly for myself but I am sad for my friend. Here is what he said to me when I asked him if he remembered where we were on this day so many years ago: We were a very long way from home starting a great adventure. Some days it seems like only yesterday the memories, even the smells are still so fresh in my mind. Other days it seems so long ago. I don’t think many people remember Viet Nam now or care much about what we did. We’re old history now and somedays  I feel like I’m in everybodys way.

Well, old friend, you’re in the way alright. And you have been since the day you first pulled on those boots. Because you were in the way we still have our country and our way of life. No, you were not recognized when you came home alive and you will never receive what you deserve. “Thank you for your service” which we often hear these days is a nice gesture, much appreciated, but a gentle cup of cool water delivered in the desert years after the bones were bleached. There were no grandstands when we entered that desert and we did not expect any when we walked out. Old history now? I suppose so. But you know who you are and I know who you are. Old history? I suppose so. But that is life. And it is grand…as are you.

Ray Kenneth Clark

 

 

April 15 · 1 Comment
  • http://gravatar.com/storiesilovetotell Becky Taylor

    Ray,
    I was fortunate enough to go to London and drive to Wales and back to London about 18 years ago.. never been anywhere else except PCB and Chicago where I was born. Anyway I was struck by the fact that every little dip in the road almost had a WWI or WWII memorial..always with poppies and flowers that looked , well at least not 3 years or more. Any when I got home and had time to begin to process all I saw there I started wondering why we have so few and then realized … it is because it is so much easier to forget because it wasn’t in out back or front yard… and Vietnam had it’s on different set of reason plus that. Not to say it is right but that it is human nature I guess. And although I wish for the Vietnam vet ( who I still see as forgotten because we are working to hard to honor our more current vets) and all others to give to this country unselfishly that we would do a better job of that. But I am so thankful that we have the luxury, that you all gave us, to be able to forget because it didn’t happen here. I hesitate to write anything because I don’t want to have a replay of my last comments… just know everything is meant with love and “precious” affection. Becky
    and pass this on to your friend if you think it’s worth it.

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