I used to walk across the dirt road to check the mail at least once a day, sometimes more than once, to see if my brothers letters had arrived. Our mailbox rested upon an antique tractor. I am a farmer’s daughter. I was a young girl proud of my brothers who were in Vietnam during the Vietnam Conflict but I was also worried that I may never see them again. I longed to see their faces and place my hand in theirs and feel their strong, protective arms around me in a bear hug. I faithfully watched the news on TV to hear any updates on what was happening overseas. I would run to answer the phone to see if perhaps one of my brothers was calling. At school I would often daydream during class wondering if they were safe.
At last my walk would yield a long anticipated letter in the mailbox. Thank you Mr. Postman. The foreign stamps on the envelope intrigued me. The familiar handwriting of my brother, Dan, was written on stationery with a map of Vietnam in the background. I would embrace the letter, then kiss it and give “thanks” to God for keeping him safe thus far. The Beach Boys “Don’t Worry Baby” would play in the background on Dan’s reel to reel tape player as I read his letter over and over.
That was over 40 years ago but as I write this I remember like it was yesterday. There were many more letters to wait for. Many more phone calls yet to answer. Many more days wondering if he would return home. Many tears shed and many prayers offered up for his safe return.
He did come back and I once again felt his hand in mine, his big, strong protective arms around me in a bear hug and his kiss on my cheek. While we laughed and listened to music together he would sometimes tell me stories of his time in Vietnam but he would also say that there were things he could never talk about. He now suffers from Agent Orange complications. Although he bravely and quietly battles these complications he focuses on his career as a realtor and his calling as a pastor.
My two other brothers also returned home safely. Today I was blessed to have my brother, Pat, visit with me sitting at my kitchen table sharing memories over cups of steaming Gevalia Kaffe and freshly baked Banana Nut Bread. He is a security guard. I have wonderful memories of my other brother, Richard, taking me to Mimi’s Cafe for my birthday and sharing a special Thanksgiving meal at my home a few years ago. We keep in touch through email and Facebook messages. He is an attorney.
To all veterans and all active duty military currently serving the land of the free and the home of the brave — I salute you. Thank You for your sacrifices. God bless you all. God Bless America.