"Sharing can be a way of healing. Grief and loss can isolate,
anger even alienate. Shared with others, emotions unite
as we see we aren't alone. We realize others weep with us."
~Susan Wittig Albert

Through our writing, we walk out of the darkness into the light
together, one small step at a time, recording history, educating
America, and we are healing.
~CJ/Todd Dierdorff

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Daddy's Poem

My sincere appreciation goes to my friend, James McCraney, who sent this to me in an email.  There must be many children in the same boat as this little girl.  My thanks go to our service men, women, and their families, for the sacrifices they're making to keep our country free.  Don't forget them.  Please pray for our troops.

Daddy's Poem

Her hair was up in a pony tail, 
her favorite dress tied with a bow. 
Today was Daddy's Day at school, 
and she couldn't wait to go. 

But her mommy tried to tell her, 
that she probably should stay home.
The other kids might not understand, 
if she went to school alone. 

But she was not afraid; 
she knew just what to say, 
what to tell her classmates, 
why Daddy wasn't there today.
But still her mother worried 
for her to face this day alone. 
And that was why, once again, 
she tried to keep her daughter home. 

But the little girl went to school.
She was eager to tell them all 
about a dad she never sees, 
a dad who never calls. 

There were daddies along the wall 
in back, for all to meet. 
Children squirming impatiently, 
children anxious in their seats. 

One by one the teacher called 
on a student from the class. 
To introduce their daddy, 
as seconds slowly passed. 

At last the teacher called her name, 
every child turned to stare. 
Each of them was searching, 
for a man who wasn't there. 

"Where's her daddy at?" 
she heard a boy call out. 
"She probably doesn't have one," 
another student dared to shout. 

And from somewhere near the back, 
she heard a daddy say, 
"Looks like another deadbeat dad, 
too busy to waste his day." 

The words did not offend her, 
as she smiled up at her Mom. 
She looked back at her teacher, 
who told her to go on. 

With her hands behind her back, 
she slowly began to speak. 
From out of the mouth of a child, 
came words so incredibly unique. 

"My Daddy couldn't be here, 
he lives too far away, 
but I know he wishes he could be, 
since it's such a special day, 

and though you cannot meet him, 
I wanted you to know 
all about my daddy, 
and how he loves me so. 

He loved to tell me stories, 
taught me how to ride my bike, 
he surprised me with pink roses, 
and taught me how to fly a kite. 

We liked to share fudge sundaes, 
and ice cream in a cone, 
and though you cannot see him, 
I'm not standing here alone. 

My daddy's always with me, 
even though we are apart.
I know, because he told me 
he'll be forever in my heart. 

And then, her little hand reached up
and lay across her chest. 
She was feeling her own heartbeat, 
beneath her favorite dress. 

From somewhere in the crowd of dads, 
her mother stood in tears, 
proudly watching her daughter, 
who was wise beyond her years. 

Her daughter stood up for the love 
of a man not in her life, 
doing what was best for her, 
doing what was a right,

and when she dropped her hand back down,
staring straight into the crowd, 
she finished with a voice so soft, 
but its message was clear and loud. 

"I love my daddy very much, 
he's my shining star,
and if he could be, he'd be here, 
but heaven's just too far. 

You see, my daddy was a soldier
and he died just this past year,
when a roadside bomb hit his convoy 
and taught Americans to fear. 

Sometimes when I close my eyes, 
it's like he never went away. 
Then she slowly closed her eyes, 
and she saw him there that day. 

And to her mother's amazement, 
she witnessed with surprise, 
a room full of daddies and children, 
who also closed their eyes. 

Who knows what they saw before them. 
Who knows what they felt inside. 
Perhaps, for merely a second, 
they saw her daddy at her side. 

"I know you're with me Daddy," 
to the silence she called out, 
and what happened next made believers, 
of all those once filled with doubt. 

No one in the room could explain it, 
for their eyes had all been closed, 
but there on the desk beside her, 
was a fragrant long-stemmed pink rose. 

A child was blessed for a moment, 
by the love of her shining star, 
and she was given the gift of believing 
that heaven is never too far ...

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Coming Home: Craig Latham

"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." 
~Lee Greenwood

Coming Home
by Craig Latham
Craig Latham

I've never told many people about this, but when it came my time to ETS back to "The World", I sorta felt like I shouldn't leave Phu Bai ... there were new guys left in our old jobs that we mentored. One was a guy who was considerably older than any of us had been. I don't even know how he got there. He had no clue. But I did what I was suppose to do and I came home.

I went to Cam Rhan Bay. Our "Freedom Bird" came in and, just as it was landing, mortars started hitting the field. The plane touched down and kept right on going. They tried this four times and each time we were hit. This went on all day. I guessed there were elections going on and the "Little People" wanted to disrupt it. Finally the plane went somewhere else because it had to refuel. What started out at 0800 that day didn't end until 1700 that night.

When the mortars finally stopped, the plane landed. What usually took a couple of hours to unload and reload the plane, took approximately 45 minutes. As we were going in the front door, the "Cherries" were exiting the rear of the plane.  I got on the plane and got a window seat. I always liked looking out from the air. I guess that's why I used to like to fly over there whenever I could get a lift. Anyway, when we took off, we were over water. The plane was quieter than I thought it should have been for a bunch of guys who just spent the worst year of their life. I figured maybe they were like me and we just couldn't believe we survived.

Well, the guy in the middle, in the seat next to me (Mike, I forget his last name), started talking about getting home and going fishing. Now this Mike had worked in an HHC orderly room all year and probably never got outside the wire at Camp Hochmuth, let alone in Phu Bai. He started talking about fishing and how he used to love to fish in the ocean and how he caught big fish. Then he told me about catching sharks. Right then and there I figured the plane was gonna crash, and I would survive the crash only to be eaten by a big fish ... lol. I immediately got up, and traded my seat for an isle seat for the rest of the trip home.

The next time I looked out of the plane would be as we were crossing a beach in Washington State. I've only been on a plane three times since that time. One time, I was flying from Seattle to Columbus. Another time, I was flying from Columbus to my next duty station until I got out of the Army (I hitch hiked home from Ft. Riley). And the third time, to and from Albuquerque NM when I went out there for PTSD study.

Craig Latham
Combat Writer/Photographer
34th Public Information Detachment (34th PID)
2nd Brigade/101st Airborne Division (Ambl)
Phu Bai, S. Vietnam

**Thank you, Craig.  As always, it's an honor to post something you've written.
With a hug and a lot of respect,

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

Monday, June 6, 2011

Grief: Emily Dickinson

I was reading some poetry this morning by one of my favorite poets, Emily Dickinson.  She was such a wonderful writer -- her thoughts so often echo my own.  I hope you have a great week, everyone. ~CJ

I Measure Every Grief
by Emily Dickinson

I measure every grief I meet
With analytic eyes;
I wonder if it weighs like mine,
Or has an easier size.

I wonder if they bore it long,
Or did it just begin?
I could not tell the date of mine,
It feels so old a pain.

I wonder if it hurts to live,
And if they have to try,
And whether, if they chose between,
They would not rather die.

I wonder if when years have piled—
Some thousands—on the cause
Of early hurt, if such a lapse
Could give them any pause;

Or would they go on aching still
Through centuries above,
Enlightened to a larger pain
By contrast with the love.

The grieved are many, I am told;
The reason deeper lies,—
Death is one and comes but once
And only nails the eyes.

There’s grief of want, and grief of cold,—
A sort they call ‘despair,’
There’s banishment from native eyes,
In sight of native air.

And though I may not guess the kind
Correctly yet to me
A piercing comfort it affords
In passing Calvary,

To note the fashions of the cross
Of those that stand alone
Still fascinated to presume
That some are like my own. 

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Keith Hudnall: US Army

SP4, 11d US Army 1971-1974:

Hi CJ, my name is Keith Hudnall and I'm from Cleveland. I've been to Coshocton many times. I did not go to Vietnam. I was diverted when I got to Oakland CA and they sent me to Korea on the border.

There is this one thing that sticks in my head and it will never go away. I was a road guide standing on a culvert on a bridge. I was looking down at some Korean kids swimming in the pool of water there. I noticed that one of them might be in trouble -- he was maybe eight or nine years old. 

I saw a Jeep coming down the road and by then, I was frantic. I waved them down and we went down to the pool and pulled the kid out and started giving him CPR. The other person in the Jeep called one of our choppers. It wasn't long, the chopper came in and landed in the paddy. They loaded the boy in and took him away. The guys in the Jeep left me sitting on the bridge. I remember I just sat down and then I started to cry. They left me there.

About midnight, a Korean farmer came to me and invited me in his home. When I got up the next day I started walking. When people asked me, "Where have you been?" I said, "Nowhere." I was 18 and 1 month old.

I'm sorry about your man. It was all just so stupid. I lost a lot of friends. There are many questions I have about life. If I had reacted sooner, would my friend be alive? He could have been a doctor or the King of Mongolia, if I did not give up my set on a Kiowa for my friend. Could I have stopped it from crashing into the side of a mountain? I don't know. I do know, if it wasn't for baseball, guitar, mandolin, Twain and Steinbeck, I wouldn't know what to do. You should see my room -- 50-60 books. Now I'm reading Bobby Fisher on chess.

The bad thing about the army is, they spend half the time teaching you how to kill someone, and the other half, how to fix them. People that were not there or who weren't affected by it do not understand.

Keith Hudnall
4th 7th Cavalry - Garry Owen

**Thank you for your service and for sharing your experience.
Welcome Home, Keith.

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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