For Veterans Day… God Bless All Our Military

These two posts are from my other blog, You Have HOW Many Kids!?

and I wanted to share them. I have been asked if they are true. Yes, they are. Both happened.

Have a great Veterans Day and please… say a quick prayer for all of our vets. Many are alone and forgotten and feeling like they served in vain for people who don’t appreciate them. God Bless. This is long and there are a few cuss words in there. I hope you enjoy something from me that isn’t cooking and silliness.

The Soldier

 He had never thought of himself as having been a good soldier. He drank too much and partied too hard. He sometimes took his work too lightly and his fights too seriously. But he was old enough to fight in Vietnam and had no reason to run from what he considered his duty, so he went… and he fought. When he went home, he realized he no longer fit in. Seeing so many people worry about their jobs, their money, their small annoyances when every day the men and women he had known were dying so that they could worry about those things annoyed him. More than that, it hurt him.

They hated him. They hated what they thought he stood for and what they thought he had done. The cries of “baby killer” and murderer” tore at his heart. To have people think that he and his buddies were killers, that they killed just for the sake of it made him wonder where the spirit of the country had gone. He knew that his fathers war had been different. WWII soldiers had come home to cheers and people who thanked him for saving mom, apple pie and The American Dream. He, on the other hand, had come home to sneers, hatred and signs saying he was no better than a modern day Hitler.

So he went back. He went back to the swamps, to the mud, to the sweltering heat and to the people he now considered his. He went back to the women who treated him like a god as well as the ones who had bombs strapped to their chests as they took their own lives just so that they could kill soldiers like him.

He did this for three tours of Nam. By then the war was ending and they sent him stateside. But he no longer felt like he was at home. So he drank more. He took various drugs to help him forget. He had made it through three years of Nam without a scratch physically. But the scars on his heart and his mind were irreparable. He no longer knew how to survive without somebody shooting at him. He tried to get help but no one would listen. He was just one more wounded soldier without a scar.

One day, he decided he had had enough. So in a small hotel room in Indiana, he took a gun and he put a bullet through his brain. He left behind one son and a handful of friends. He also left behind a note saying he was sorry. He asked everyone to forgive him but said that he could no longer handle the pictures in his head and the way the world treated him and others who had fought in what so many considered a losing battle. he also said something I have never forgotten. He asked that if this ever happened again that we remember that the soldiers were just doing their job and not to hate them for it.

Sometimes now I wonder… have we listened to him? Or are we repeating the sins of the past and hating the men and women who serve our country during a war that most of us hate?

Twenty Four years ago tomorrow Jerry killed himself. What legacy did he leave behind? What legacy did all the soldiers like him, who suffered for us, leave behind? Do YOU remember them? I do… every March and every time I hear about one more soldier dying. So next time you want to rant and rave over the war, please… can you remember Jerry for me? He was only 33 when he died. He was my friend.

Gary Fulsom-

No matter what she did that night, she couldn’t get warm. December in Cleveland was a bad time to be temporarily homeless. Being only nineteen, she knew better than to go over to the crowd of men huddled around a garbage can fire. There was no friendship waiting there;only problems.

So she pulled her knees in closer to her chest and tucked her arms under the thin sleeves of her shirt and looked longingly at the bright flames and the bits of food the men were passing amongst themselves. She had no extra clothing, no coat. Those had been kept in a fit of temper when her ex-roommate kicked her out because she didn’t want to go farther than being a roommate.

She saw the aged man coming towards her and tried to make herself invisible behind the dumpster. It didn’t work.

“Hey Blondie. Why ya hidin’ back there? Scareda us gents over there? Well, you should be. We’re a nasty lot of lost souls.” He smiled at her showing a mouth full of broken teeth and sat down near her, waving a hand and telling her to sit back down when she arose and looked frantically around for the help she knew wasn’t there.

Sitting back down as far away as the limited space behind the dumpster she had been calling home for the last week allowed, she waited quietly thinking if she just let him ramble, he might leave sooner.

“Frightening looking old shit, ain’t I?” He spread his arms wide as if to show himself off. He wore a faded Army uniform with tattered old sneakers. His hair was halfway down his back and looked like it hadn’t seen a brush or shampoo in weeks. His right arm hung strangely and he favored the left, using the right only to cradle the bottle he periodically swallowed from.

He gave a snorting laugh and smiled at her. Something in his smile eased her fears a little though she still kept silent. “I wasn’t always this bum you see now, sweetheart. I’ll betcha didn’t know I was a vet huh? The uniform ain’t just for looks honey. I served three tours in Nam. Had me a good life going until I got hit. Had me a wife and a couple of kids waiting at home.” He took a long drink and was quiet for a long while. She thought he was finished and started to doze lightly, comforted by the presence of someone older. She awoke with a start when he began to talk again. “When I got hit, she couldn’t take it cause I ain’t a whole man no more. She took the kids. Got herself remarried. I lost touch with the kids ’bout 10 years ago. They’d be pretty much grown now.”

“VA didn’t help me much. The arms never worked too good since then; can’t really feel much in it. The rest… well, ain’t much they could do to make me a man again ya know?” She didn’t answer, knowing it wasn’t expected. She just sat with her head on her knees, listening and trying to keep warm.

Suddenly he looked at her as if really seeing her for the first time. “Shit honey, ain’t you freezing?” He walked away towards the rest of the men. She heard some low toned words being exchanged and he came back with a dirty woolen blanket. He tossed it at her along with a sack of cold burgers that she knew had probably come from a dumpster behind the local fast food joint.

Grabbing both, she wrapped up and started to eat, hungry enough after three days with no food to not care where it came from. He nodded, looking pleased to see her eat and continued talking.

“I like it out here ya know? Lotsa us out here. Nam… well, it fucked us up pretty good. You don’t forget; you can’t. No way to forget it when you see a pretty VC woman kill off your buddies like they was so many roaches. Can’t forget it when you watch a little boy blow hisself up in the middle of a crowd because someone paid his family ten bucks to let them wire him up.” He took another drink and offered her the bottle which she refused with a shake of her head. “That’s ok honey. More for me,” he said with another snorting laugh.

Suddenly he started digging in his pants pocket. “Honey, you got a family somewhere?” She nodded. “Can’t get back to them, can ya? Hmmpphh, know what that’s like. You don’t need to be in this place honey. It ain’t safe for you. Pretty girl like you. You’re sure quiet but I can see smart in yer eyes. You need to go home.” He pulled out a wad of grimy bills and thrust them at her.

That’s when she spoke up.”I can’t take your money. Thank you… but I can’t. I don’t have any way of paying you back.”

“Yeah you do honey.” Seeing the fear light up in her eyes again, he laughed. “Not that; told you… I ain’t whole… and anyway, you’re ’bout the age my daughter would be. I wouldn’t want her out here. Take the money honey. Go home. Get back to yer people before you lose your soul here. You can’t live this way and keep it or your mind. Go home. You can do something for me by keeping me in yer head. It’ll be nice to know that somewhere out there somebody remembers me. My name is Gary. Gary Fulsom. Remember that ok?”

She thrust the bills down into her pocket and got up. “Thank you. I don’t know why you’re doing this but thank you…Gary. My name is Janet. Again… thank you.” She turned to go, leaving the blanket lying next to him.

When she was a few yards away, she heard him call out to her. She walked back and waited as he fumbled out of his coat. He looked down at it, looked up at her, then back at the coat. “Take this; it’s fucking cold out here. I got the fire. You need a jacket. Now get the fuck outta here before I change my mind. Get your ass to the Greyhound station and get the hell outta this place. Go!” He pushed the coat at her and turned away. She held the coat for a second, knowing he had had it since the days when he had had a better life, when he had had love; a family.

“Gary!?”, she called out and ran after him. “Thank you… for everything.” On a feeling, she reached out and wrapped her arms around his waist for a second. He didn’t respond at first, then she felt his hand rest softly on her hair.

He started to speak and cleared his throat when his voice broke. “G’wan. Get outta here. You can prolly get a bus out tonight. Just remember ol’ Gary k?”.

I still do.