I'm Not A Vet - Anonymous, 2003

 My brother and I were in the first draft lottery. I drew 346, he drew 7. We were both in  college, sharing housing with vets who were going to school on the GI Bill. Most of them had  field experience, some from the early years, others just back, a few who went and returned while  we were in college.

My brother enlisted after graduation to avoid the draft, following his long interest in things  mechanical to helicopter maintenance. That was before he found out he'd also be a door gunner. 
Lucky for him, knowing how to type turned him into a clerk at Long Binh Jail.

A bunch of people I knew in high school served, most of them enlisted. My graduating class was  typical, 65 people split about evenly between farm and town families. A guy a year or two older  than me came home on convalescent leave from a punji pit while I was a senior.

One of my best friends, we sat next to each other in homeroom for two years, enlisted in the  Marines and died at Cam Ranh Bay. Going to his funeral sixteen months after we graduated, with  the military pall bearers, the rifle salute, and his eighteen year old fiancee was the hardest  thing I've ever done.

That little village lost two men in Nam. The other one was probably five or six years older than  me, an amazingly kind and friendly person given our age difference. He was the only person I  know of from there who went to a military academy. He graduated from the Air Force Academy and  got shot down over the north. He was never an MIA.

I found a classmate at our twentieth reunion, and he still had the thousand yard stare I  remember from guys who came back to college. The last few years I've gotten to know a man, in  his sixties now, who served two tours as a corpsman in the field; he is one of the finest people  I have ever known in any way you might want to measure human quality.

Going to the Wall was hard for me because I knew there were some names I would recognize. I  finally went, though, and I was doing okay. Then I found those two names within about a foot of  each other, and I lost it.

So, I was never there but I've always thought that, in some way, everyone who served and  everyone who knew someone who served in Nam has a shared experience. I'm not a vet, but I lived  those years, met and still know wonderful people who are vets, and lost some friends.

My Dad's a vet, so are his brother and sister and my mother-in-law, all WW II. I have three  brothers and they're all vets, two army and one 20+ years in the navy. I honor and respect  everyone who wears the uniform now, and everyone who ever did. Thank you, all of you, for  allowing me and everyone else who is not a vet to enjoy the liberty and safety you paid for.

Note to the editor:  If you decide to post this, I'd just as soon be listed as anonymous and without an email address if that's alright. Thank you for using space on your site to honor veterans.