Monday, January 02, 2012
A Vietnam Welcome Home
The Vietnam War ended in 1975, the year I graduated from high school. But in all honesty, I knew very little about the timeline of that war. Oh I have memories of watching war footage played out on the nightly news and needing to know the nightly body count each night. But as a kid, it just seemed unreal, like watching scenes from The Bridge on the River Kwai. You see, up to that point, no war had ever been televised in realtime before.
So, the other night I watched Vietnam in HD, the six-hour miniseries on the History Channel. This documentary was the result of a nationwide search of home movies taken by soldiers during the Vietnam War. And seriously, I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. In fact, my husband watched it in his office and I watched it in our bedroom, and often times we would meet halfway during commercials and just hug... for I knew how painful this was for him to watch. He had two brothers enlist in the Air Force during Vietnam and they saw more than we will ever know. And had the draft not ceased, Randy's number would have been called up next. This could have been his story.
So that got me thinking about another childhood memory... the year my Dad welcomed home two neighboring farm boys from active duty in Vietnam. The year was 1968, and as you will read from the article, my Dad just got the notion to welcome home two young soldiers, similar to what he saw on a hillside at Staten Island, New York when he returned home from World War II.
My Dad chose a slopping 20 acre field on his Dad's farm, and with his tractor and hay mower, he mowed out the words "Welcome Home Don & Larry". The letters were 50 feet high and a single mower swath wide. Please take a moment to read the story (click to enlarge) that was published alongside the aerial photo. I have yet to read it without bringing me to tears. My Dad is truly the most patriotic man I know.
Ok, so there's a funny story to go along with that memorable day. It seems my brothers Ron & Gary had gone along with Dad to their Grandpa's farm that day, and were playing on a nearby hill. Btw, Wisconsin is very hilly. My brother Gary said they began to see that Dad was mowing some sort of message... and from what they could tell at a slant from their hillside, it looked like Dad was sending them the message ~ Walk Home Ron & Gary. So they were going to walk home! How funny is that! But soon Dad had finished mowing the message, loaded the boys back in the tractor and drove them to another hill on the way home so he could show them what he had done. That is when they saw the entire message.
But we sure have laughed over the years imagining those boys wondering why in the heck their Dad would go to so much trouble just to tell them to walk home. ha!