I wanted to share this tribute to Vietnam Veterans, written by my friend Terry Wilson. It honors the service of Vietnam vets and since my own father, whom I'll honor tomorrow, served two tours in Vietnam, it hits a mark. And though he wasn't spit on during his homecoming, his memory was certainly spit on by his tribe, the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians. More on that tomorrow. Please enjoy this story:
I got assigned to work on a special project with a young woman named Michelle on 3/27/00..we work thru e-mail and the fax machine...I met Michelle in Feb.1999 and she blessed me in a way that no one ever has.
I got sent down to Orange Co.for some training on the mapping system the company uses and went into the office and a friend of mine took me down to the room we would be using for the class.
There were two women in the room and we would be using their computers while they went to other computers in the building.
Introductions were made and I sat down to wait for the others to arrive..I commented to the older lady that I liked her choice of music which was country and we talked about country music for awhile.
The younger lady Michelle is Vietnamese and she was singing along to all the songs and I commented on her singing along and she just laughed and said.."I started listening to country when I arrived in America and I liked it and I also listen to oldies"..my kind of woman.
The other lady laughed and told Michelle to tell me the song that she had played at the dance for her and her new husband..Michelle made me promise not to laugh and then she said.."we had them play Crazy by Patsy Cline.
I commented that it wasn't your ordinary wedding dance song but if that was what she wanted why not.
She said she had them play that song cause she could slow dance to it and everyone seemed to like it...and then proceeded to tell me about wanting to have an American wedding with the dress..veil and the whole nine yards.
We talked some more and then they came and canceled the class and told me to return in three weeks.
When I returned the older lady wasn't there and I was sitting talking to Michelle and the talk turned to Vietnam..she wanted to know when I was there so I told her.."Dec.1966 to Dec.1967"..she informed me that she was born in July,1968.
She asked if I was wounded over there and was that the reason I was using forearm crutches and I told her.."no..I have MS."
She told me about being poor and not having a lot to eat..not knowing a war was going on until bombs started to go off and her dad explained what they were and what a war was.
She told me about them getting out of Vietnam and eventually getting to America and how glad she was.
And then she did something that touched me in my soul..she slid back from her desk and got out in the aisle and stood up straight and said.."Terry...thank you for coming to Vietnam and fighting so we might have freedom."
Then she bowed to me..not just a slight bow where they incline their head but a bow from the waist..I was stunned.
She sat back down and said.."my mother told me when we arrived in America that everytime I met an American who fought in Vietnam I was to honor him and thank him."
"My mother said that many Americans came to Vietnam for many yrs...some paid the ultimate price with their lives..some went home crippled...no arms..blind...they fought for us so that we could have freedom and they deserve respect...thanks and honor."
Michelle told how she had honored many men and thanked them for coming to her homeland...finally she asked.."Terry...are you ok?"
I had taken off my glasses and wiped the tears out of my eyes...I told her I was ok and told her about how a lot of my fellow citizens had just cursed me and given me the finger and that I had never thought that I would see the day when a Vietnamese person would thank me for coming over there.
I told her that she had no idea how that made me feel..the next day a friend of mine came in to see the mappers and Jack sat down to talk to me for awhile.
Jack was in the Marines also and was in the first Marine group that landed in Aug.1965...I told Jack about Michelle and he got tears in his eyes and told me that all he got when he returned was a few curse words and that I was a blessed person for having received Michelles thanks.
Since this has happened Michelle and I have become friends...She told me a while back that the next time I come down to where she works and these are her exact words..."Terry...we'll have to go out and do lunch"..Terry