Small Town Veteran

Baby boomer, nerdy kid, Viet Nam veteran, engineer, daddy, grandpa.
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2004.11.25

Proud Thanks

Russ Vaughn, one of my two or three favorite writers in the world (I'll leave that ambiguous so I don't insult Greyhawk or any of my other valued efriends), has granted me permission to publish the Thanksgiving Day greeting he sent me.

Bill,

I haven't written much since the election except for "Swift Justice" and "The Last Battle of Vietnam."  [Links added -- BF] I haven't been able to shake the respiratory infection that I've had for over a month now and the doc says I now have walking pneumonia.

By the way, the Swiftees liked "The Last Battle" so much they're having it printed for their members and want me to sign and personalize it for their key players. In return they have bestowed membership in their organization upon me. I can't tell you what an honor that is.

This morning I turn on the computer and find an email from Mrs. Greyhawk  [(at "The Mudville Gazette") -- BF] wanting to know if I've written anything she can include in a Thanksgiving message for the troops. I hadn't, of course, but after thinking about it over a cup of coffee, I wrote the poem below which you are welcome to use but please not until Missus G has it up.

Trying to come up with something for her, I remembered this piece I had written back in 2003 and sent to the San Antonio Express-News, which ignored it :

That’s The Way They Were Raised

While surfing through websites for information on my old unit, the 101st Airborne Division, I ran across a quote by a reporter, who was embedded with the 101st in Iraq during the invasion. In his tribute to the young troopers he served beside, he marveled at how they could fight Iraqi forces so ferociously through the night, then spend their days handing out food and medicine to Iraqi civilians. The reporter observed that Stephen Ambrose, historian and author of “Band of Brothers,” another tribute to the Screaming Eagles, but those of an earlier war, had this to say about American troops:

“When soldiers from any other army, even our allies, entered a town, the people hid in the cellars. When Americans came in, even into German towns, it meant smiles, chocolate bars and C-rations.”

The reporter followed that quote with two sentences of his own which I find truly moving and profoundly insightful,

“Ours has always been an army like no other, because our soldiers reflect a society unlike any other. They are pitiless when confronted by armed enemy fighters and yet full of compassion for civilians and even defeated enemies.”

Those words should be chiseled into granite on a prominently displayed memorial somewhere, because they speak a great truth, not just about our fighting men and women, but also of the nation and society that molded them.

As a former combat infantryman, I will wager that for every single occurrence of violence and mayhem reported from Iraq, there are hundreds of acts of kindness and generosity by American forces, which go unreported. And that’s fine because that’s as it should be. Their compassion shouldn’t be remarkable. They do it, quite simply, because that’s the way they were raised, and they don’t change just because they put on battledress uniforms and become proficient with deadly weapons.

I am so proud of those young Screaming Eagles serving in Iraq, and proud to be a part of that fine unit’s legacy. I’m proud, as well, of all the other young servicemen and women who are contributing to the effort to create peace and build a democracy in Iraq.  But, Folks, I am most proud of being just one of you, a nation and a way of life, that creates such valiant yet kindhearted warriors. We should all be proud of what we’ve produced.

Russ Vaughn
2d Bn, 327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division
Vietnam 65-66

Anyhow, that's where this Thanksgiving poem came from:

Proud Thanks

Across the world, in far off lands,
On heaving seas, on desert sands,
You serve our flag, you guard, you fight,
Make despots quake and fear our might.
You show the world a fearsome face,
But do it with a noble grace.
The same steel fists that man the guns,
Unfold in kindness to little ones.

How can you warriors fight through the night,
Then hand out food when comes the light?
Unlike other armies, you American G.I.’s
Are not viewed with fear by civilian eyes.
Other nations see this and are amazed
Not us, we know it’s how you’re raised.
Wherever you serve, the world can see,
You’re the fine result of our democracy.

On this day of grace we send our prayer,
And give proud thanks to you everywhere.

Russ Vaughn
2d Bn, 327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division
Vietnam 65-66

Bill, you're welcome to use whatever of this you wish but please, wait for Mrs. G.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

Russ

Happy Thanksgiving to you Russ, and to everyone reading this. I hope your health problems end soon, and congratulations on your induction into the Swiftvets. The nation owes them, and you, more than my words can express.

Update: "Proud Thanks" is up at Mudville, backdropped by an absolutely stunning photo montage. Go check it out. (Please note that Mudville's clock runs several hours ahead of mine. The poem was posted there before I posted it.)

Posted by Bill Faith on November 25, 2004 at 12:30 AM in Poetry, Russ_Vaughn | Permalink


TrackBack


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Proud Thanks:

» Happy Thanksgiving from Mudville Gazette
UPDATE:Russ was gracious enough to whip this up for me and he explains here what insired him. Also, get well soon Russ... [Read More]

Tracked on Nov 25, 2004 6:45:00 AM

» Proud Thanks from Esoteric * Diatribe
Russ's poem is a Thanksgiving tribute to our soldiers. I choose to preface it with a tribute to Russ: I am thankful for Russ Vaughn not only for his service to his country, but for his dedication to fighting for what is just and right. I am thankful ... [Read More]

Tracked on Nov 25, 2004 2:23:50 PM

» The Uncredibles from Mudville Gazette
Watched The Incredibles on DVD today. Great film, easily worth the five bucks I paid for it. The only drawback is this new technique American filmmakers have adopted where they make a movie, then videotape a showing of it in... [Read More]

Tracked on Dec 6, 2004 8:07:11 AM

» Giving Thanks from Mudville Gazette
President Obama thanks the troops who stand behind him at Osan Air Base, Korea, November, 2009.... [Read More]

Tracked on Nov 25, 2009 9:55:25 AM



Comments


Note: I hate to have to do it but I'm turning on comment and trackback moderation. If you post a legitimate trackback or comment I'll do my best not to be too slow about approving it. If the only reason you're here is to advertise your porn, music, or penis enhancement site you can kiss my sweet ass.


This Poem is stunningly beautiful, again Russ Vaughn has come up with a Poem for the ages.

Posted by: Linda from Whittier, CA | Nov 25, 2004 11:18:43 AM

Happy Thanksgiving Bill! Here's hoping that you and yours have as much to be thankful for as we do this special Thanksgiving! I really like Russ' stuff. Great read! Keep up the great work Bill. Your site really looks good. :-)

Posted by: JarheadDad | Nov 25, 2004 9:56:24 PM

Thanks from me and all parents of military people serving now and in past conflicts.

Posted by: Grannylu | Nov 26, 2004 4:40:48 PM

Wow, what a find! The poem is a real tear jerker, only because it is so true. Thank you for your work on this site, otherwise I wouldn't be looking at it.

Posted by: SeniorCitizen | Nov 28, 2004 8:44:08 AM

Happy Thanksgiving Bill! Here's hoping that you and yours have as much to be thankful for as we do this special Thanksgiving! -------------- http://www.davidblog10.com/

Posted by: prudenia | Mar 8, 2005 3:44:20 PM

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