America - Will we Remember?
Remembering those who have given the ultimate sacrifice to allow us to enjoy our freedom
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A History Lesson
U. S. citizens have fought for the rights that we enjoy throughout our history.  Mike provides a roll call of  battles that made veterans of those citizens   "Lest We Forget."

A Remembrance 
Two snipers go to war.  One comes back while the other becomes just another line on a very large wall.

ElmerT
As we grow older, our memories grow in numbers but the ones of families and friends are never forgotten. It has been said that in this world we live in, the strong take from the weak.  This is a poem where the strong thought they conquered the weak but little did they know...

Heroes 
Mike meets a Marine veteran of the Iwo Jima Campaign while visiting the memorial to that campaign in Washington, D. C., and is surprised that he and the other veterans of the Viet Nam War are considered "Heroes" in the eyes of the old WW II vet.

My Father's Tears 
As the generations succeed each other, young sons follow in their father's footsteps and march off to war.  Mike reminds us that the trauma is not all on the battleground.  The fathers, knowing too well what their sons will face, agonize in their absence and until they return safely home.  This is a story of three generations, and one must wonder if there will be a fourth, and a fifth....

My First Time Out
A visit to the horrors of war on a Marine's first time going out to the bush.  The horrors hit him before he ever leaves the main road...

Nightmare #9
 Presidents and Congresses may declare that a war is over, but are wars ever over until the consciousnesses of every participant are finally stilled by death?

O' Sergeant
Last words of a dying Marine.

Second Street
It has been said that those who wait also serve.  This is a poem about one such family...

The American Soldier in Iraq 
Mike tells about the thoughts, feelings, hopes and fears of troops now in acting as America's warriors and diplomats in Iraq.   Except for Iraq being the scene of current conflict, it seems that as each day passes Iraq is resembling other places that a generation of Americans grew to know too well.

The Angel of Crystal City
Have you ever been visited by someone who wasn't there?  It is not an uncommon occurrence among veterans...

The Hole
The story of a youth's introduction to life

The Last Long Night
This poem deals with the ultimate nightmare of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)....Suicide.  Too many of the veterans who read this poem will recognize just how true this poem rings.  It is posted with the fervent hope that no one who ever reads it will seek that solution.  Because, in fact, suicide is the negation of solution.   Mike submitted this poem, then had second thoughts about whether or not it should be published.   We thought and discussed having some other type of ending, but decided that device would not ring true to the content of the poem.  The loneliness, the inability to get along with others, even those you love most, the hyper-alertness, the drug abuse, and suicidal ideation all contribute to the type of hell that PTSD is.

 There is nothing new about PTSD, except for the fact that the condition was not entered into the lexicon of mental illnesses until 1980 when the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM III), American Psychiatric Association was published.  During the Civil War, Soldiers who demonstrated the identical symptoms now so clearly outlined in the DSM III were said to have "Soldier's Heart."  In WW I it was called "Shell-Shock."  In WW II, Korea and Viet Nam it was called "Combat Fatigue," or sometimes "Anxiety Reaction.   Of the 25,851 total Marine casualties on Iwo Jima, 2,648 were listed, along with the killed and wounded, as "Combat Fatigue."   This is the only time, to my knowledge, that Combat Fatigue was listed as a distinct casualty producer during WW II.

 What do you do if come to the realization that you have suicidal ideation?  First of all, recognize that your condition mandates that some "significant other" be brought into your situation, and quickly.  Many cities have "suicide hotlines."  What if your city does not have such access?  Seek the help of a mental health professional.  Here professionals  all tend to read from the same book.  The professional will probably want to "contract" with you.  What do I mean?  Very simply, this "contract" is a solemn promise that you will do nothing to yourself, or others,  in the way of suicide or homicide until after you've consulted with the professional.  What if you can't get to a professional?  Then consult someone who will be understanding of your condition, and "contract" with that person.  In most cases this is best done with someone beyond the circle of immediate family or friends.  Most of us have access to a VA hospital or Outpatient Center.  Seek help there, or with a private mental health facility, or simply another veteran on an emergency basis.    And don't be hesitant to declare that you are in an emergency status and your condition is "critical."  Because it is.   Maybe the most important thing to recognize is that suicidal ideation is not "normal," and that the help you require cannot all come from within.  You need help to get through this very real life crisis.    

It is not true that the rate of suicide among Viet Nam vets is significantly higher than their peers in civilian life.  But it seems to us that, in the case of veterans, having survived a war, that suicide is the negation of all that they fought for.   Thank God for the presence of other veterans who are willing to listen, understand, and act on our cries for help.  Many, if not most, of the people who read this will know the frustrations that the veteran is confronted with when he seeks help for PTSD.  I know of one veteran who, in the summer of 2003, talked to his family doctor about his symptoms.  The veteran was told that he should "....just get over it."   How many times have veterans heard that from persons whose professional education should have taught them better?  Many, even veterans suffering from PTSD, consider the symptoms of that malady as an indication of weakness.  It isn't.  PTSD is a very debilitating and dangerous condition, not only to the veteran, but also those closest to him.  The brain itself has suffered biological changes.  It is our opinion that you can live and even prosper with PTSD if properly medicated, and then monitored by someone expert in psychotropic drugs.  I know of one psychiatrist who is convinced that when a veteran in a family situation suffers from PTSD so does the entire family.  Would that all medical personnel, charged with the alleviation of suffering, were that enlightened.  So, with this caveat, read the poem if you will.  Powerful stuff, it seems to us. 

 The Miracle On Hill 52
 Losing a "brother" in combat is a wrenching experience....

The Target  
Did the sniper hit his target that night so many years ago in the Nam?  There was no body to count, but his sight picture was good, and the spotter said the shadow seemed to disappear with the sound of the outgoing round.  Now, at a distance of almost forty years from the event, does the sniper wish that he had hit his target, or does he prefer to think he missed?

The Tribute 
A Nam vet with PTSD goes out to meet the newly dead from Operation Iraqi Freedom.  At least the newly dead will never have to suffer through the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" as he would have to do if he had lived through the war and ended up as just another lonely vet in the local Outpatient Clinic of the Veteran's Administration. 

The Witness
Today, in these troubled times,  parents are saying good bye to their sons and daughters as they go off to face the enemies of our country.  It has happened since the beginning ... will it ever stop?

Treason 
How much damage can treasonous acts cause to the citizens of the United States?  Mike knows.

Vietnam Veterans Travelogue
Vietnam as seen through the eyes of a Marine

Years Ago
Boys grow into men quickly during a time of war.  This is a story of  one "boys" transition.