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About Vietnam



About Vietnam
‘Food and shelter. Food and Shelter and someone is dying for me. Food and Shelter. Food and Shelter, and someone is dying for me’. That is what I awoke to at five after one this morning. The words that came out of my mouth, after I prayed, hoping all was well in my household. Of course, I arose and checked every person and every room in our homes. My natural action, of course.

I knew what made me rise, even though I’d only had a little more than a three hour sleep. It was my creative mind that woke me up. I thought at first, that it was something more serious. Not to say my creative mind is not. After checking on everyone, I lay back in bed at eighteen minutes after one. There was comfort, yet a discomfort that sat in my mind. It was the question, ‘Am I thinking differently than others, right now? If so, why?’ I thought as I lay in bed. I prayed, figuring the answer would arrive. I wondered, ‘Was God wanting me to get up and write?  Was this my only time? What was to occur from this disruption?’

Then the words rolled out as I was five years old, “I got food and shelter. I got food and shelter, and someone is dying for me.” As the five year old I was in 1967, I then asked as I did in the middle of this night. “Yes, but what can I do? How do I die for someone else?” Yep, that was the question. It was the question I’d had most of my life.  But yet, it wasn’t like I was trying to die. It was a childhood question. How do I go do something for someone else without them asking anything of me?  That was the question. How do I do it, nearly unrecognizable? In a sense. So, from then on, it was my thought to go into the military.  Because there, you’re just a number. But yet, you were given an opportunity to truly give it all.

I reflected back last night to the time the Vietnam War waged on. Walter Cronkite gave us the news.  Casualties listed quite regularly, that I can remember. My mother extremely worried that her only son would be taken, and she would lose a third son. The young adults I mingled with as a child were either my recreational counselors at our local elementary school during the summers, through 1967-1973. Or they had been the recovering addicts in the basement of the Nazarene Church I’d attended between 1968 through 1972. They were young kids who now were attempting to straighten out their paths.

These young adults were lost.  They appeared disillusioned. Disillusioned as to the direction that the country was going in. They had not too many sympathizers in my family. Except my Mom. On some Friday nights, my Mom would take me to the basement of the church.  These young adults would hang out there. As they would play guitar and sing songs of love, peace and what I called ‘Jesus Hippy’ songs. I would help serve them fruit drinks. As well, cookies that my Mom and the other women had made, who attended Sunday church services.  I listened to them talk about LSD, tripping and such. I didn’t understand it all. But I listened. They spoke on how they felt about life. The only category I could put them in, was good.  Good people, who were either misunderstood or didn’t understand or both.

I can say it left it’s mark in my mind, and my soul. Not a bad mark. Just another episode I witnessed as a child about being human. Even though I wanted to become a Marine, I never told them that. I didn’t tell my parents till 1973, anyway. My Dad Poo-pooed it.  My Mom questioned it.  My brother ignored it. I didn’t tell them all my reasons why. I also knew it was something I had to do. I had a lot of reasons. I accepted the fact that many wouldn’t agree with it back then. I wouldn’t dislike anyone because they didn’t have the same feelings as I had.

I can say, the times when I do have admonishment for those who deferred during that time is when they show disrespect for what I may have learned and know. Or they lied about why they deferred military service at that time. As well those same persons who’d lied, were condescending, bigoted and oppressive to others. Then I learned that was not what I perceived Americans to be. Yet, I may have to defend such abhorrent ungrateful sorts. And hopefully, I would be lucky enough to not have to serve them much.---Jody-Lynn Reicher

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