Friday, March 23, 2007

Vietnam and a Sacrifice Never Forgotten

Every year a specific date on my calendar approaches. It is a period of time in which I tend to reflect on days of long ago more so than at any other time of year. It was in that now distant past, a day when a town mourned the death of one of its own. Sadly today many seem to have forgotten that sacrifice, I never will. It was a time which gave birth to days filled with war protest. It was a time when America began to question the wisdom of the leaders of this great nation.

Again we face a time of question. Again we live in days when the people question the wisdom of our leaders. There are so many things which are happening today that make people once again think about the great cost of war. Once again people protest in the streets. Once again people are thinking about the true cost of war. Once again mothers cry.

Today I offer to you something I wrote some time ago while thinking about a friend, a soldier who was no more than a boy. Yes a boy who lived all of his years before he was old enough to vote. I hope that in reading my words you find something here, perhaps a sweet memory recalled, that you can take away with you. Perhaps it will be something simple like a prayer for a world filled with peace and justice.

My Old Letter of Remembrance:

On a recent trip to the Capital one thing I found somewhat sad was the visit to "The Wall." Fifty Eight Thousand names, each one with a story and a mother. When you walk past, it seems so long. There are so many names that the names just seem to fade into a blur of meaninglessness and sorrow. To hear numbers is not fully appreciated until you walk the length of the wall and experience it. Of course it was my intention to find the one name that had any personal meaning to me.

When I found it, I just looked at it, touched it, stared at it for a long time, quietly, and remembered childhood. I remembered my hometown and the way it was then. But most importantly I remembered the only citizen from town honored on that long black wall. The one whose name my hand reached out to embrace.

I remembered the sadness of the entire neighborhood at hearing the news. I remembered a mother’s complexion as white as snow as she sat in front of that coffin. I remembered a thirteen year old boy who did not want to look down into that coffin beneath the glass as he attempted to hold back tears!

I write this these many years later still not fully grasping the depth of emotion caused by the event of war. Talking about waging war is easy when you don’t consider the consequence or the next long black granite wall. Perhaps that is what these verses are about! No, they are simply about Ray.

Of Flags, Gold Stars, and Broken Hearts

A verse from the song
Requiem for the Masses reads
“Red was the color of his blood flowing thin
Pallid White was the color of his lifeless skin
Blue was the color of the morning sky
He saw looking up from the ground where he died
It was the last thing ever seen by him”

Now many years afterward
As I reflect
On what it all meant
Now as I reflect
On what is left behind
A Sacrifice of Valor
Given in the Name of Freedom
One name among many
A name Etched in Black Granite
"The Wall"
A Silent Sentinel
And a Grateful Nation

As it was in 1968
So it is today and forever
A flag folded in a tight triangle
Three equal sides was it folded
Father, Son and Holy Ghost

A flag handed to a grieving mother
A flag to honor a Son
Measure the value
Cloth in place of Child

A Gold Star Shining Bright
A Gift to a Mother
From a Nation indebted
A Gold Star to honor a Mother
Measure the value
Gold in place of Child

A Nation of Mothers who have known grief
That Nation of Mothers
This shall always know such grief
For that Nation and that Mother are united
And that Honor shall be extended
To every Mothers Son
Until we all learn
The better way
The way of Peace

In Memoriam

Cpl. Raymond Frank Schopmann
4/39 Infantry
Born 09 November 1949
K.I.A. 26 March 1968
Gia Dinh Province

As the Sound of the Wind

On a Windswept dune Near the Sea
Silence is broken only by a gentle Whisper
It is the Sound of the Wind

Sun Upon my Face warms me
As I Stand and Gaze out to Sea
Far beyond the Breaking of the Waves

Remembering the Child that once played here
Wondering where the Child has gone
And asking why has He gone away

The empty Sound of the Wind fills this Place
Like a Whisper of Memory
Of a Friend a Child of long Ago

And as the Whisper of Wind
Beyond the Golden horizon Journeys
I remember those Days

Like a Gentle breeze a Whisper
As the Sound of the Wind
Of a Child by War taken Away

In Memoriam

Cpl. Raymond Frank Schopmann
4/39 Infantry
Born 09 November 1949
K.I.A. 26 March 1968
Gia Dinh Province
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