My purposes for writing about Vietnam, such a painful and enigmatically agonizing chapter in not only my life history, but my entire generation's lives, bearing on the future of civilization, was to educate people who have no idea of the reality of the horrors of war. The horrors and the traumas of Vietnam are more than just historical events, for if we do not learn the history of war and its terrible implications, learning there is no glory in war...only death, destruction of values and misery, then we are doomed to repeat it! And the next war, the latest in a series of, "war-to-end-all-wars," will inexorably come!
I wrote this because all the people of the world continually need to understand how important an event war is. War will always be a determining factor of not only who we are, but will determine our very futures, as well as the futures of our wives and children. I sincerely hope we will not doom our children to fight senseless battles as did we, shackling them to similar fates suffered by their fathers. Sometimes war is a necessary evil...sometimes not...sometimes there's Vietnam! My fervent wish is that we will come to understand the horrors of war, that we can work for peace evermore, making war-no-more!
I write with the wish that the stories of what happened there will never die. I want the atrocities to a generation, both here and there, to live on in the telling and retelling until they become a firmly established part of our memory. I was the sports editor of my college daily newspaper (BYU's Daily Universe) when I was drafted...and like so many others, Nam changed the direction of my life indelibly and forever. Nam imbedded my soul with a new set of senses...forever.
My "Vietnam Picture Tour," has received many heartwarming letters from children, teenagers and adults, from both those with the memories that have walked-the-walk/been there/done that, to those who had no idea of the meaning of war, from parents, children, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters. Many have been very poignant. Mant have made me cry with realization that I and my brothers were getting the message out. We were being heard! Someone was listening!
My greatest reward came when Nancy Meek penned a series of poems in response. Nancy took my picture tour, read my poems, and indeed walked there in understanding comprehension beside me...and now Nancy has been awarded the prestigious Bronze Helmet Poetry Award by the International War Veterans Poetry Archives for her poem, "The Power Of The Soldier's Pen:
The Power of the Soldier's Pen
by Nancy Meek 2001
(for Gary Jacobson)
He did not know where the war would take him
His future lay in shadow somewhere just ahead
He did not know the path he would follow
Would lead him where others feared to tread
He dreamed of home and family
And the world he left behind
A world where life was simple
With cares of a different kind
He did not know each step he took
Would make a difference in the end
That the world would wait, breathless
For the power of his pen
No, he did not know way back then
The new battle he would face
The quest for peace and love
For the entire human race
The world lay at his feet back then
Drenched in human blood
He did not know his poetry, his stories
Lay dormant in the mud
Then God, in His own special way,
Touched his heart and moved his hand
Shining his message upon the page
So the world could understand
He did not know how many souls would learn
Of the atrocities and aftermath of war
But with courage and determination
He fights the good fight forevermore
He does not fully know his gift to man
How God's seed through him has taken root
How even way back then, he took a step
Causing the world to turn beneath his boot
The War Will Go On
by Nancy Meek 2001
Gut-wrenching photos drag me screaming and kicking
To a place I do not want to go
To the memories of a veteran of the Vietnam War,
But still I am compelled to know.
To experience the echo of his pain,
If only for a very brief moment in time,
Trapped by the lure of his music
And his unique style of rhyme.
Papered-words can not replace the anguish,
The yearning for his inner peace
Nor can they make him forget the tragic nature
Of the human spirit which does not cease.
They serve to remind, lest any should forget the horrors,
The atrocities so viciously performed on another.
They serve to heal, for in the telling thereof,
There is release for this American brother.
My throat swells shut at his descriptions of fear,
Hope, courage, and this soldierís undying will to survive,
At his ability to still retain an unrelenting love of goodness
And prayers of tranquillity for every man alive.
I gazed into his mirror of the pit of Hell,
Feeling I shall never fully return.
With the teeth of his heart, he whittled his gun into a pen,
Etching his memories upon the page and my mind, forever to burn.
He speaks of the battle between good and evil,
And the wonder of the eagle as he flies.
Very little escapes the eye of the predator
And he, too, does not know if tonight he dies.
There are differences, however, between eagle and man.
There is no compassion, regret nor guilt at the end of the claw,
No spirit beneath his regal feathers
Battling with the concept of heavenly law.
Give to Caesar that which belongs to Caesar,
Ye warriors of the western world,
And with all of your mental power and physical being,
Seek out, attack and destroy___wherever you are hurled;
But remember, the true victors in Hellís arena
Are those who, in the aftermath, still know
That killing is wrong, but still necessary,
As long as mortal man rules and evil winds blow.
Without God, there is no desire for peace, love nor forgiveness,
There is no conscience, no guilt nor remorse,
No hand reaching out to close the eyelids of the mortally wounded,
These things are from a heavenly source.
The physical war in Nam has ended, but the spiritual war
will go on;
The battle between good and evil will reign supreme
Until the windows of Heaven are opened wide,
When the light at the end of the tunnel
is real and not a dream.
In the beginning, darkness was upon the face of the deep
Then came the Light which lives through you.
Some are doomed to the pit of Hell, some will live in Heaven forever;
But you donít want to live forever, or do you?
A Grateful Heart
by Nancy Meek 02-11-01
To the combat soldier
Who has seen his time in Hell,
Thank you for your sacrifice
And for coming home to tell
That no glory is found in war,
Nor honorable thing residing there
Which should light a candle in the eyes
Of our children so innocent and fair.
Thank you for your prayers
That we cast aside our hate,
To put on the armor of love
And no more wars create.
To all the fallen roses
Who answered freedomís call,
Please know that you are more
Than names upon a wall.
Without you there on foreign land
Staring down death face-to-face,
Our lives would be on shifting sand
Our freedoms torn from our embrace.
Our savior bravely died for us
Upon the cross at Calvary,
So we could have eternal life;
That, through His act, we might be___
He was called, as were you
To meet His bitter end.
No greater love has any man
Than to lay down his life for a friend.
For this, a grateful heart swells,
For soldiers who gave their all
For fighting the good fight
And rising to the call.
May you find peace in Godís arms,
As the sheep in the shepherdís care.
May love be found there waiting
At the end of your thousand-yard stare.
by Nancy Meek 02-13-01
I walked behind you there
As you pointed to the graves
Stretched beside your LZ Betty home,
Went on tour with you through morning haze.
With weary eyes ever-watching,
You described how, through the night,
You hugged the dirt in fear ___
The fear there would be no morning light.
I was there beside you when you grinned
Ear-to-ear at the buddy with his ready lens,
The day those snipers shot at you, but missed.
You told me a sense of humor was good defense
To keep your sanity against manís inhumanity.
Yes, I was there, listening to your every word,
Without question or pause, taking it all in,
How each grievous death was so absurd.
You fainted not when the bullets came
Whizzing past us in the jungle steaming.
A penny for your thoughts on how you held on,
Knowing your motherís son was not dreaming.
You showed me your muddy poncho
Wrapped around you in your fox-hole home;
And explained that even though others were there,
You still felt so forgotten, so horribly alone.
I stepped through Asian sludge with you,
Knowing I still had a way out of the muck and mud
But feeling guilty about leaving you there by yourself
To deal with your buddy moaning in a pool of blood.
So, I hung on for a while longer, feeling helpless,
Covering my ears to the sound of the screaming eagle
As you gazed on his regal flight, wishing you were he,
But knowing to escape the horror would be illegal.
You told me dark secrets, hoping I would understand.
I wanted to so badly, so I stuck around, learning.
You spoke of the wish to be free from night fears,
Of harming the one you love.....oh, what yearning!
I was there looking over your tired shoulders
Telling those reporters off in such a fine way,
How we needed to avoid a repeat of history,
That our babies deserve a brighter day.
Teacher, you are not finished by a long shot.
Keep up the good fight and your poetís pen to page.
I will be there listening, reaching out, breathless
To one soldier of Godís love, standing center stage.
CLICK TO VISIT... Through pictures and poetry take a walk in "the park" with the 1st Air Cavalry on combat patrol. Experience the chilling reality that will give you the taste of "the Nam" on your tongue, leave the pungent smell of "the Nam" in your nostrils, and imbed textures of "the Nam" in your brain as though you were walking beside me in combat.