Vietnam: War Abroad, Skirmishes at Home
MEMORIES OF DAYS GONE BY:
1969. It was a sad time. The war in Vietnam hung over the nation like a pall. Those doing the fighting knew they could win if allowed. People in America were frustrated by a war that seemed to go on incessantly. Nobody was satisfied on either side of the issue.
I was on leave in California, visiting my extended family, and getting myself prepared to go back for another tour in ‘Nam. My older sister and her husband invited me see a local theater company’s performance of “Fiddler on the Roof” in San Francisco. I wore my dress uniform, not ashamed of who I was. And besides, it was the only outfit I had with a proper tie. We enjoyed the first half of the play in a very classy theater–so classy that it had drinks and snacks on a buffet table during the intermission. I was truly enjoying myself. As I was mulling about, I heard a quiet, collective gasp from those around me. Suddenly, a well-dressed hippie was standing in front of me. (I say well-dressed because he and his clothes were neat and clean, and he was wearing a new-looking serape.) He smiled at me like an understanding brother and said, “How ya doing, man?” I answered, “I’m fine. How are you, friend?” The hippie then said smoothly, “You know, what you’re doing is wrong.” I simply answered, “That’s what we’re fighting for, so folks like you and I can disagree freely.” He looked at me calculatingly, then smiled, turned about, and disappeared into the crowd.
I admit I felt relieved that he had not been confrontational, but my adventure was not yet over. A heavy set man in a tuxedo-style suit with a sash stepped in front of me and glared at me like I was something stuck to the sole of his shoe. He proceeded to call me a “fool” and a “loser,” and tell me how anyone who joined the military was either broke, stupid, or both. I was just about to let him say farewell to what would have been his nose when the hippie appeared out of the crowd again and got into Tuxedo’s face. He jabbed his finger into our mutual acquaintance’s chest and said loudly, “Why don’t you just shut up! At least he’s got the guts to do something about what he believes in! What’s your cause, Fats, besides ruining people’s evenings?”
Mr Tuxedo quickly retreated, sweating with fear. I looked at the hippie fellow, grinned, and put out my hand for a shake. As we shook hands, he said, “Peace, brother!” and I replied, “Peace be unto you.” I never saw him again, and I hope he has lived a long and prosperous life. I learned another important lesson that day: You never know when you’re going to find a friend.
May our Lord Jesus Christ be your best friend all the days of your lives, brothers and sisters. Old Sarge loves you all.
– The Sarge
Reposted with permission of the author by Reagangirl.com 1/30/14