As you can see from the posting below, I recently was asked to give a speech at the Vietnam Veterans Moving Wall Memorial. It was not a speech I had planned to give, nor was it one that I could give the bland, same-old political ‘buzzword’ speech about, for the reason that I am not a politician and never intend to be.
As I made clear in the talk, that differed from the actual talk somewhat, I was speaking from my own memory as it was when I was a small child. Outside of that, it was specifically about the effects that carried over into my adult life when deciding who to vote for at any given election.
I was quite shocked to see comments from someone who ‘knew’ Mark himself, who was, in fact, ‘touched’ in an unexpected way about my own childish memories of him. If I do burn in hell, I have to assume that it won’t be for that reason.
I have long considered the possibility that my parents and my aunt ‘softened the blow’ for me at Mark’s death, about the things he actually wrote, about the challenges he faced. However, hearing NOTHING from anyone else, I preferred to just keep the memories I was given at the time and cherish them; I pray for Mark and his brother; and for the first time I was ever called on to do so, to at least honor that young man who I remembered so well. His letters are still in the possession of our family, though not in my own personal possession. The dates of his service are readily available. We also have a picture of my brother who, inspired by Mark’s enlistment, asked for, and wore, fatigues for his birthday because to him, Mark was a true hero.
Mark’s sister is one of the most loving individuals I’ve ever known in my life. That fact alone makes Mark’s story a valuable one, and it means to me that Mark had a wonderful effect on that woman’s heart- I know she admired him very much. In every respect, that family is one that is an honor have known.
Therefore, the person who has commented so passionately about Mark is someone I am very interested in hearing from. I am interested in hearing what they know and remember about Mark and his brother. I am interested in hearing their memories of the war. And if, as I still believe, that Mark’s death was an unmitigated tragedy and loss to his family, his loved ones and his country, perhaps more specific and difficult details can be shared by this individual and we can all benefit. I would certainly be grateful to fill the man out, make what is known about him a better, fuller picture.
Nobody, least of all me, expects a small child to be told the specifics of the horrors of war, and nobody expects a small child to skeptically challenge their parents on the ‘truth’ or ‘what was left out of the story’, and nobody expects a small child to be up on the politics and mechanics of such a controversial war.
We are currently in a war with repercussions for troops and families that are every bit as horrifying as Vietnam, if not more so.
Therefore, it is naive to expect that decades down the road there won’t be raw nerves, sensitive topics and extremely painful reactions about the troops that are being lost or are suffering now, or will be suffering in the future. We cannot ignore that reality, any more than we should have ignored it in Vietnam. When will our country EVER learn?
So, to my commenter, and anyone else that wishes to share the stories that you remember, even the painful, sensitive and horrifying parts, please put them in some form that I can post here.
Truth will always out, will it not? Or will it buried, shuffled around, swept under the rug, ignored?
Thank you to my readers and those who care so much. It moves me that even after all this time, Mark’s story still inspires passion in someone that knew him.