Saturday, July 3, 2010

Proud to be an American

As we prepare to celebrate July 4th (Independence Day), I felt it was important to say something about those who serve, or have served, in our armed forces. I keep them in my prayers and hope the wars will be over soon so they can return home.

I love the song "God Bless the USA" by Lee Greenwood. Every time I hear it, I am reminded of how fortunate I am to live in this country. The chorus is something I find myself singing quite often.

"And I'm proud to be an American
Where at least I know I'm free
And I won't forget the men who died
Who gave that right to me
And I gladly stand up next to you
And defend her still today
'Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land
God Bless the USA"

In my family four brothers, two brothers in law, and I served in the military. Three brothers and a brother in law served during the Korean War including one who was at the front lines. Another brother served in Germany during the Berlin Airlift. A brother-in-law and I served "in-country" Vietnam. He was a foot soldier and I was a part of the "Brown-Water Navy" (the riverboats). My son also served thirteen years in the Army and five more years in the Guards with time in Kuwait just prior to Desert Storm I. My son-in-law served in the Army and was in Irag.  My daughter also served in the Army including a tour in Germany.

When I was leaving for Vietnam, I still remember what my brother (who had been in Korea during the conflict) told me at the airport. "I couldn't be more proud of you right now. If you lose your life over there, I know that you died in the service of our country." At the time, I was not certain I wanted to hear those sentiments. Today, I understood what he meant.

When I came home from Vietnam that same brother took me to the VFW. When we walked in, we walked around the club visiting several tables. He always introduced me as his brother who just returned from Vietnam. I could not buy a drink or my meal that evening. It was what I needed, however, after going through the airports in San Francisco and Minneapolis. We were so thankful to be finally home. Unfortunately, we were greeted with boos and called some interesting names from people who did not believe in the war. It was a difficult walk down the corridors that day ... one that I will never forget. Thirty-seven years later I wrote about some of my experiences in a short story called "Will I Finally Find Some Peace." The following is a paragraph from the story.

"Twenty years after my tour, I visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. While standing in front of the black granite wall, I was overcome by the pain that the 58,249 names represented. All of my suppressed emotions and thoughts flooded over me. I could not hold back the tears as I traced my fingers over the name of Jan Christianson – my best friend in high school and a helicopter pilot in 'Nam'. I walked the length of the wall and the darkness and death that it represented tried to consume me. For a moment, I felt like I was being absorbed into its black void. Feelings of futility surfaced once again and with it emerged all the frustration, anger, and disgust that I had kept hidden for so many years."

Even if you disagree with the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, our troops are not to blame. If they had a choice, I am certain none of them would be there. These men and women should be honored for doing their duty (serving their country). They sacrifice so much including spending months and years away from family and friends and many put themselves "in harm's way" every day. Thousands in the Guards have given up good jobs to serve not knowing whether they will have a job when they return or if their family will survive financially during their absence. Too many return home missing an arm, a leg, or things much worse. And, thousands more have given the ultimate sacrifice.

I can no longer serve, but I can at least honor and support those that do. "I love this land ... God bless the USA."


  1. Well written and beautifully expressed. We are all in debt to you and all who have served or are now serving our country." We who have not experienced what you have gone through can only say thank all are our heroes.

  2. Bruce,
    I just read your blog on the KDA website. Very well written, and emotionally stirring! The pictures you chose to illustrate your words are perfect and made my eyes well up in tears. I can't even imagine what it must have been like over there in war. Even though I am not fortunate enough to have been a Veteran, I would gladly stand next to you to defend our country. (I am a Veteran on the inside)!

    I know we always are quick to hear how messed up things are here and how bad the administration is, but there is still no other place in the world I would rather be. Thank you for your service to our country and your commitment to make a difference here on earth. It is people who are committed to a cause that make all the difference. Sometimes it only takes one to start a huge difference. Look at Clara Barton. If not for her would there be a Red Cross today?

  3. I love this country also as I also served in nam but I was not drafted in 1968 as they needed as many people as they could to help in nam. They were drafted for 2 years but I was not drafted so I unlisted for 3 years went to Vietnam for 1 year in 1970 as a door gunner on a helicopter then cam home to the same boo's and things to tossed at me as I walked off the plane so I spent 30 days. At home and volintered and went back to Vietnam for another year in 1971 again as door gunner on a helicopter and when I returned I met the same BOO's well all I wanted to do wase to serve my COUNTRY god bless the USA . DJ


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