May 30, 2016

In recent years, my brother
Memorial Day Services at Olympic Memorial Cemetery in Olympia
John Carney, a Vietnam veteran,
has written a new poem for each
Day.  Once again,
we have a poem
he has just
penned and
I'd like to share it.

Memorial Day - 2016 - John Carney

On Memorial Day I think especially  
About the War in Vietnam 
At this time I give some reflection 
About a country that gave a damn

It was not fought in silence
The country was in an uproar
Many argued against it
Not believing what it was for

There were marches even riots
Sit-ins and protests everywhere
Mostly conducted by the young
But most everyone had some care

And the so named “Silent Majority”
Who somehow believed it was right 
It was an obligation and many felt
There was a reason we had to fight

Was it truly just a civil war?
Was communism really our threat?
It was argued over dinner tables
In the papers and on the TV set 

And the generals weren’t sure
How quite to fight such a foe
Making it that much harder 
To believe our forces should go

Those who returned could face scorn
From the most ardent voices opposed
There were no parades and few ceremonies
Supportive songs weren’t being composed

Many came back in silence
Very few stories were being told
The feeling in the country
Was confused and sometimes cold  

To this day I still have some doubt
And arguments still abound
Much is now just opinion
Though some information can be found   

Yet what about South Korea?
And the island of Taiwan?
Was that war and our threat of force
Different than aiding Saigon?

Khrushchev said he’d “Bury Us” 
The “Cuban Missile Crisis” was real
Eastern Europe was locked down
The Soviets showed great zeal

So what did it really matter?
Do we know what it really meant?
Now with Iraq and Afghanistan
New forces have been sent

Yet now days our mindset has changed
The country says thank a Vet
For them there is no blame
More a sense of national debt

But this was not written to re-argue
The merit of that war
That left so many of our young
Dead on a foreign shore

But that maybe it would be better
If everyone could be called to fight
The whole country would feel a duty
To be sure our cause was right

Then the nation as a whole
Would remember those we lost
And take a moment of silence
Noting what it really cost

Memorial Day is the time to pay
For those brothers, now sisters too
And the loved ones they leave behind
The respect and honor they are due