No one paid much attention to us when we returned -
That was probably not such a bad thing.
No one wanted to dwell on a lost cause -
Best just to forget.

We certainly weren't heroes,
And we didn't expect to be treated as such;
But a simple "thank you" would have been welcomed.
Instead, it was always the uncomprehending stare.

Toward the end, our wounds were more mental than physical.
We, more than our predecessors, understood the futility of it all.
Fear and sudden death, though no longer daily companions,
were certainly not absent.
In fact, toward the end, we began to kill each other.

We hadn't exactly lost - but, clearly, we had not won.
Frustration, recklessness, and insubordination were emergent;
Escape was sought through drugs and booze.
The world's mightiest nation was "standing down" in despair.

So again as I join the crowd on 11 November in my adopted country
Grateful for the sacrifice of earlier generations,
I also remember those of my own generation of Americans
Who never came back and, worse, have never even been mourned.

Paul Doyle,
Vietnam veteran

Copyright © Veteran's Day 1997, By Paul F. Doyle, All Rights Reserved

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