Gary Jacobson

NO TICKER-TAPE PARADE

For that little Southeast Asian charade
For that fiercest of games we played
They gave no welcome-home parade
Fighting for freedom… far and away in Vietnam
Knee deep in mud, blood and fear
Fear that’s lasted many a bloody year.

There was no ticker-tape parade, or such
No hurrahs… no cookies… no punch
Not so much as a half-hearted cheer
For surviving hell our most excruciating year.
Though we didn’t ask for much…
By a grateful nation we wanted only to be heard
Wanted folks to hear our tales of war’s absurd.

We had so bloody much hurt to get off our chest
For devotion to duty honored with our country’s best
Just wanting to be recognized
For boyish youth in cruel war sacrificed
But America was just too weary of war
To welcome back boyhood soldiers war bore.

Men sorely staggered by war’s bloody insanity
Face now a bleak destiny
Futures beset with demonic fear’s depravity
I guess that’s why folks back here couldn’t see
How young value systems were twisted for eternity
How on young boys was impressed war’s barbarity
Giving rise to upheavals witnessed in war’s inhumanity.

So embarrassed, folks back home gave no parade,
No welcome home accolade
For warriors wounded in body and spirit
Soldiers disillusioned, lied to, desolate…
Men laid low by moral depravity’s greatest hit
Were turned away while countrymen on us spit.

Folks back home called us every conceivable name
For erstwhile young princes held such contemptuous shame
Calling us depraved baby killers, castigated with blame.
We’d so much to talk about of where we did roam
But found the only ones welcoming our arrival home
Were our mothers… and beastly traumatic stress syndrome.

Seeing the war daily on television made
Vietnam a condemned charade
People just too uncomfortable to honor with a parade
Returning warriors with souls burned-out
Who’d seen too much, no doubt
Waving the flag, all hale to their glory shout

Vietnam veterans buried “issues” down extra deep
Deep down in the dank where scary demons yet creep
Regurgitating violence that plumb our soul’s great depths
Forevermore haunted by comrades-in-arms’ deaths
Recurring memories of war’s hot fiery breath
Is it any wonder, vets now walk… so unafraid of death?

Parades are reserved for conquering heroes, glories to flaunt
Not for those whom Nam’s deep, dank jungles still haunt.
Not for those with compounded fears from a foreign land abused
With dread inlaid by vagaries of a non-caring world confused
Our fears earned fighting for home, freedom, beloved land
Great horrors, our people, did not even try to understand.

Beloved countrymen did not, would not, could not hear
Would not try their best to comfort a fellow man’s harrowing fear
By a nation we loved, unceremoniously denied
Promises not kept by a country we with all our hearts loved,
Bled for… died
For honor given, our country gave dishonor…

Yet Vietnam veterans still dream of the ticker-tape parade
Dreams still blow in the wind of a welcome home fusillade
For that war of a surety won by the blade
Lost only by politician’s bumbling charade
Our sacrifice in honor deprecated
Enslaving promises forever subjugated… decimated… trampled

That parade that should have been…
But never was… our nation’s great sin…