"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

Friday, December 5, 2014

Christmas Time: The Heavy Heart of War

The Heavy Heart of War...

by Keith Brown

'Tis the season to be jolly ... or at least that's what the song says ... I, for one, have a difficult time with the Christmas season.  

My "mood" usually starts around Veterans Day and continues through the rest of the year.  It has taken me a long time to try and figure out why ... and to be honest, I still haven't. 

I guess it's because during that time there was a lot of sadness for me:  
Leaving home and being shipped to a hostile environment. 
Seeing the body bags coming into Bien Hoa (69) and Pleiku (70). 
Reports of other rotten stuff happening.   
The almost race riot at Bien Hoa on Christmas Eve.   
A couple of suicides that I can recall.   
Bob Hope flying into Bien Hoa and then leaving in disgust.  (It seems there was a dumpster under his 'Welcome Bob' sign).   
The feeling of being by yourself, even with your 'friends' being around you.   
The letters from home with pictures to show how happy they were.   
Writing back home, "Yes, WE had a great time, too...." 
Anyways, I guess the point of all this rambling is ... no matter what you are feeling, you're not alone.  Take care and be safe during this holiday season. 

Christmas at The Wall

In memory of over 58,044 brothers and sisters who never returned -- Republic of Vietnam 62-75.

Keith Brown

“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

Feel free to comment on this post. You are also invited to write about anything you want to share. Memoirs From Nam is YOUR blog. You are writing America's history.


  1. The "soldier" is somewhat one of the most resilient and adaptive creations on this earth. For all the reasons Mr. Brown cited - leaving home and entering a hostile environment - body bags - racial strife - yearning to be with loved ones - etc. etc. NOTHING has changed. These factors that required a "soldier" to adapt to his environment in Vietnam are applicable to the soldiers in the Middle East currently. The "soldier" (formerly in many cases a draftee in the case of Vietnam) transitions into a " survivalist " in that he not only wishes to get through this ordeal - he also wants those around him too as well. This banding of brothers as soldiers is something one will never experience in the "working" world of cut-throat corporations and the race for the almighty profit. This Xmas - think of the men you may have spent Xmas Day with and New Years as well over there in 'Nam. Our Xmas gift we all exchanged then was our love for one another and that love persists even today when we meet other Nam Vets. For those whom did not return to resume life with their families - our gift to them throughout the year is our Respect and Honor - as they will never ever be FORGOTTEN by their brothers! May You ALL have a safe Holiday Season

  2. Well said Mr. Brown. We all truly lived in that world 24/7. A world unexplainable to outsiders. Their world was all about whatever fun was going on at the time. I do wonder if any, with exception of families of loved ones over there, really took time to reflect, remember, & learn how we really were out there. It's easy to speak of someone after they've come home, but what did they think of us while we were gone? How were we remembered, thought of, etc. Did anything we represented, did, were, have any true meaning to those left behind? Over the years I've had many people say, man I sure wish I would have went. My first answer to them is No You Don't. You wouldn't have survived. My next thought was if they really "Wished" they'd gone all they had to do was sign up, load up, & show up. As I see it they all wanted to be pretend heroes just like in the movies. Save the world, etc, etc, etc, etc. Real holidays in combat world hurts more that those back home could possibly know. Can't blame them or hate them though. All they saw of our holidays as well as the war was what was on TV @ night, edited of course. Back then most had no idea what editing a war film really meant. Thanks for what you wrote. It touches those of us that endured all that hard time, just so we could make it back to the "World". God Bless my friend & comrad. Always.

  3. Kieth thank you for your service of your country, and the many brothers you had in uniform thank you. Thank you for your excellent obligation to follow orders. You know if we all had been able to be individualist, we would have no band of brothers throughout time. You have upheld your oath to "follow the orders of those appointed over me" and persevered to make it home. There is no glamour in War. War means brutality, and loss. Young American soldiers don't see it every day of their existence, but the people in the countries we visit lately, have been fighting for generations, it's all they know and prefer death over the sub existence lives they live. For young Americans we have the hope for a future without war.

    I don't think there's any red blooded American who would not lay down his life for a justifiable reason. It is the American fighting man who has been exploited. Did we really lose all those young men so we could put the crap from China and Vietnam on the shelves of retail outlets? It seems so. We have to do something different. To many men wasted on ego's and big business. LBJ and Bush will answer to a higher authority.

    Very good men should not blame themselves for following orders, it was what they trained us to do, and we all had to think as one, whether friends or not. When the chips were down, we were one purpose. We fight to live and our enemies fight to die.

    You and many others don't sleep well because the brutality of war carves deep images. We look at life as a valuable journey filled with hope and peace, we owe it to those lost to prevent the loss from continuing. --Frank Fox


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