Frank J. Montoya

THE WALL

Some said: “Don’t go, it will made you sad.”
Some said: “Go see it, it’s not that bad.”
I thought for a moment and began to remember
That fateful day in late December.
Twenty-five hours in flight and here I am,
In Vietnam, courtesy of Uncle Sam.
One of thousands of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines –
Old Career Men like me, quite a lot in their teens.
Asking: “Why am I here full of doubt, full of fear
Of this ‘different’ war: will I last for a year?”
Who is the enemy, whom do we fight:
A shadow in a Starlight Scope, seen in the night?
Charlie’s here, Charlie’s there, seldom heard, seldom seen,
Not much more than a blip on a green radar screen.
Each night the rockets and mortars made hit after hit,
And the heat and the dust… or the rain, never quit.
You saw people hurt, you saw good friends die,
You saw many a tear, you heard many a sigh.
A day in Vietnam seemed as long as a year,
But at last you ‘got short’ and your DEROS drew near,
And you prayed for the day that the noise you heard
Was the jet engine sound of your own ‘Freedom Bird’.
The day I hit ‘Frisco: Not a happy occasion.
My uniform brought only smirks, sneers and derision.
“Hey folks, I’m back, I made it, I’m okay”.
Their looks said: “So what, who cares, Go away”.
Yes, some said: “Don’t go, it’s best to forget”.
But I know that for many… it’s not over yet.
So I thought: Hey, why not, it’s been twenty years,
So long since the pain, so long since the fears.
I went and I looked, and I stood tall with pride.
We gave it our best, didn’t win but We tried.
Most of us made it, but too many died.
Yes, I looked at That Wall, and I touched it, and cried.
Over Fifty Eight Thousand, Americans all,
Names engraved on that cold, unforgettable wall.
Brave men and women answered liberty’s call,
And fell, so that Freedom itself would not fall.