Today, in my quiet moments, I will think of Uncle Jim who survived Vietnam. I will re-live my grandma telling the story of his return and how happy he was to hold a baby, me, when he came home. I don’t know how true any of this is. Stories get passed down and sometimes they are told in a way that can re-shape the memory so it fits into a manner that feels good to us. The truth is harder to take, and grandma never wanted to discuss Vietnam. When Jim came home, he was home and that was that. The only mention of Vietnam was about his safe return and my birth. Perhaps it was a generational thing, perhaps it was just a Louise Gray thing, but it never seemed quite right.
Today, in my quiet moments, I will think of my husband’s patients. There are many who will live with psychological and physical ramifications of their service time for the rest of their lives. He has seen first-hand the pain of re-entry into a world they do not know. The stories he tells are not pretty.
Today, in my quiet moments, I will give thanks for all the “old-timers” I have seen bravely marching in parades proudly carrying the flag and quietly insisting that we not forget. Finally, I understand what that was all about.
Today, in my quiet moments, I will give thanks for Mike, my cousin, who has lost track of the number of missions he’s been on and has always returned safely to us.
Today, in my quiet moments, I will not shake the Taps from Andrew’s funeral. Andrew will not be a Veteran. I will worry about his parents and siblings, and then I will worry about all the other families who have lost someone and wonder what, if anything, can I do?
Today, in my quiet moments, I will hear the Taps playing and hope others hear it, too.