Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July to my fellow Americans!

I would like to thank and bless the servicemen and women who are serving our country. I pray for the souls of those who gave their lives so we might be free. I pray for those who will come after them. I mourn the loss of the innocent children who I know will one day give their lives so rich old men can get richer still.

I lost a very dear friend in 1969. He threw himself over a grenade to save his two roommates. He died in Vietnam and is buried in Albany, GA where he grew up. When I go home, I always visit his grave. I was able to touch his name on the Wall in D.C. I have the pencil rubbing I took from the Wall tucked safely away in my junior year high school annual where a picture of him and me at a pep rally is there to remind me.

My husband, Tom, served in Vietnam; his brother, Dick, served in the Korean conflict Our son, Pete, served in Desert Storm. Our youngest, Mike, was in both the Army and the Navy though, thankfully, he was not required to go to war. Pete was a medic with the 101st Airborne and was among the first soldiers into Iraq. He saw brutal death for the first time there and came back home to us a much wiser...if sad...young man.

For those of you who had loved ones who went to the Vietnam War or know a soldier who did, please do them a favor and ask them to get a lung x-ray as soon as possible. My wonderful husband had not had one taken in six years and I wish to God he had for it was lung cancer than took his life.

Not from smoking. He stopped smoking when he came back from 'Nam because 'cigarettes were just too expensive'. Smoking was never allowed in our home. He did not go to bowling allies or bars or gambling halls where smoke saturated the air. There was no second-hand smoke to invade his lungs where he worked for it was always in a smoke-free environment.

Nor was it from exposure to asbestos or any other kind of carcinogenic materials he might have encountered after 1969.

My husband died from lung cancer due to exposure to Agent Orange. I have the papers from the Disabled American Veterans Administration to prove it. Just yesterday I received an official notice from them that they had awarded me a widow's pension for his service-related death. As much as that pension is greatly appreciated, I would prefer to have the living man here beside.

Yes, I have written proof that they investigated my claim and the oncologist's statement that Agent Orange was the direct cause of Tommy's death. My government owned up to one of the worst mistakes they ever made. So many young men went to war and never came back. More came back as ticking time bombs with ailments festering inside them that they had no idea was there. Over and above the mental stress that senseless, useless war caused, is the demon lying in wait for the next man who will be diagnosed with lung cancer. Fight for your rights. Hold them accountable for what they caused with their greed.

War is hell. War is stupid. It took from me...far too early...the love of my life.

Bring our men and women home from this other hellish, stupid, useless, pointless war. They should be home with their families where they belong.

Before it is too late.

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