Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Veterans Day 2020 Meditation: Something he never planned on being / 50 years later -- Two Trees

R in Quang Tri Province, Vietnam, 1970


Michael Yandell in 2016:

"These memories have blurred in the time since my deployment. Nonetheless, taken together, the feeling they produce is grief. I know I am not who I thought I was. I am something different, something I never planned on being."


The article that the above quotes are taken from was in my email this morning, Veterans Day 2020.  How I wish that R, the man I met when we were just 17, the man who was drafted into the U.S. Army in spring of 1970 at age 20, the man who almost didn't go to Vietnam because he was against the war, the man who could not forgive himself for something he did while he was in Vietnam serving as a helicopter mechanic and felt that there was no one he could talk to about his experience; who suffered from alcoholism, drug addiction, and mental illness; who died having told no one the nature of what it was that haunted him down the years -- how I wish he could have talked with the veteran who wrote about his experience in the March 2016 article linked to in the above quote.

Every November 11 since I began blogging. I have posted something on Veterans Day.  I've just revisited those posts:














This morning I received an email from PeaceTrees Vietnam and as a result two indigenous trees will be planted in Quang Tri Province, Vietnam, in honor of R.  I am thinking of R's painting done after he suffered a brainstem stroke and was living in a VA Hospital, which was to be his home for the last 6 months of his life.  He titled his painting "Plant My Heart."

"This Veteran's Day we invite you to join us in honoring those who have served and sacrificed by planting an indigenous tree in Quang Tri Province, Vietnam. This living and breathing tribute will benefit present and future generations and support reforestation essential to addressing the legacy of war in Vietnam.
We express our most sincere gratitude and respect to all veterans and their families for their selfless service this Veteran's Day and always.
How to Participate: 
When you register to participate by ordering a free "ticket" on our website, we will plant a tree in Quang Tri Province, send a personalized note to your honoree or their family to let them know about this tribute, and will stay in touch as these trees get planted." 

This Veterans Day I am remembering one morning after R returned from Vietnam, the morning when he put an album on the turntable for me to hear:

"A soldier so ill looks at the sky pilot
Remembers the words
'Thou shalt not kill'"

On this Veterans Day, as on many before, I am sending love to all the living women and men whose lives are profoundly affected by war throughout the world.  I used to think I was alone.  I was never alone.  We are never alone.

Morning sky:


My life so far said...

There are so many ways to kill a human. One of those ways is to force them to do things they would never normally do, to take the life of another. It destroys a part of us and we carry those memories and that soul with us for the rest of our lives.

Anonymous said...

This is such a moving and beautiful and heartbreaking remembrance of your love "R." Thank you for sharing this and the lovely morning sunrise.

37paddington said...

The thing that haunted R haunts you, too, because of your love for him. So it is with trauma. If we could change one thing, but alas, we can never go back. I feel the deep melancholy in this post, which is also beautiful in its way.

Sabine said...

What a wonderful way to remember this love. A tree, two trees! So many people and creatures will benefit from this.