Saturday, February 7, 2009
I attended a reunion of Vietnam Security Police on January 31, 2009. It was a great experience and I loved every minute of it. It was organized by my friend Pat Houseworth http://www.patsdailyrant.blogspot.com/
My thoughts leading up to the reunion were very mixed. I have worked at the Moving Vietnam Wall and I have done various other things related to my service. But I really didn't know how I would react to being in the midst of some real heroes who served in Southeast Asia/Vietnam much longer than I. I was worried about being an imposter. Then Pat asked me to give the prayer service at the Security Police memorial at the Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio where the reunion would be held.
I was immediately apprehensive about what I could possibly say to these heroes, my Air Force brothers. Our claim to fame is that we never lost a base in Southeast Asia that was entrusted to our protection throughout the war.
I sat down at the computer and thought about what to say. I wanted to capture my thoughts and those of my brothers. Here is what I shared with them:
"Lord, it is right and fitting that we give You praise. As we gather here at the Security Police Memorial, we also give You thanks for protecting us on our journey.
Decades ago, in our youth, we left our homes to defend our country. Our journey took us to Texas to learn the Air Force way. For many of us it was the first time we left home and we were frightened. You were there, O Lord, to protect and guide us and You stayed by our side to comfort us.
As we went into harm's way in Southeast Asia, You again, were by our side. Not knowing what we would face, many of us whispered promises to You, many of us prayed for Your protection, and all of us relied on the arrogance of our youth for courage. But through it all, You stayed with us, protected us and most importantly, You brought us home safely to our families.
Once home, we went about our lives until now we stand before You today, a little older, a lot wiser, but forever thankful for Your divine protection. Many in this country did not appreciate what we had done, but we were proud and thankful to be Americans and we rushed to our country's defense, as the youth of this generation has done. We ask You Lord, to protect the defenders of today and keep them safe until they can return home to their families.
We ask You today, Lord, to keep our fallen brothers close to You and give them everlasting life. They made the ultimate sacrifice that allows us to stand before You in freedom today and we pray they are in a peaceful place near You, O Lord.
We humbly thank You, God, for the shared experience that we celebrate today. We thank You for our families, our lives, and our safety, all because You loved us and You protected us.
We praise You and we thank You. Hear us, O Lord, as you reign in heaven forever and ever, Amen."
I spent the last weeks sorting out some things in my mind that I put away for years. I read some books, listened to some music, and contemplated what it all meant.
I showed the pictures of the reunion to my students. They got it. They were very complimentary and thanked me for my service. I passed it on to Pat and I hope it gets to the others. They also were quick to point out that they recognized me as the guy standing right in front of the statue. Pat posted the picture on his site.
I can't thank Pat enough for his work and for allowing me to come to grips with some things. That's why I've been gone for awhile. God bless America.