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Mission City Voices: Thank You For Your Service

The Year 2023 had just begun and I was grocery shopping at Lucky’s when I was approached by another customer. She quietly said, “Thank you for your service.” I turned to see a petite, older woman who had given me a sincere thank you, after she had seen my Vietnam Veterans cap. I immediately noticed the sadness in her eyes as I replied “Thank you!” I then asked her if her husband was in the service. She tried to smile and said that he had been in the Air Force and was stationed in Vietnam when they married over fifty years ago. I hesitated and cautiously asked how was he doing. She looked down at the ground and quietly replied that he passed away last year from Agent Orange complications.

I am very familiar with complications from Agent Orange as I have been diagnosed with side effects from this herbicide/chemical agent. I have personally known many veterans who have passed away from one or more of the numerous side effects of Agent Orange. Before this woman’s husband passed away, he had arranged to have his wife attend a ceremony in Washington D.C. honoring his death. Like my old high school friend, he too had met his wife when they were very young while he was in the service. They were also married over 50 years when he passed. Both men were honored in a “In Memory Day Ceremony” for Vietnam Veterans that passed away due to effects of the Vietnam War. Though his death has been hard on her this year, she is proud that the love of her life had arranged for her to be at this ceremony. He was honored for the service that eventually took his life. It provided closure for her knowing that he wanted to be remembered this way.

Before we departed from our brief encounter, she had to show me her husband’s photo that was taken over 50 years ago. Like most of us that served in the military during the Vietnam War, he was young, fresh out of high school, and willing to do his service for his country. I gently inquired if her family accompanied her to the ceremony. She then softly replied that they had no family or children and that she was going to grow old by herself. Sadly, I know that she is not alone in this, because there are thousands of servicemen who die every year from the effects of the Vietnam War. I wear my hat to show those around me that I served, I wish there was some way these ladies could show that their loved ones also served their country, but passed away later due to Agent Orange complications or from the effects of the war. Perhaps at our local Veterans sites there will someday be a plaque for these ladies, displaying who they are and who they lost.

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God bless them all.

Mission City Voices

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1 Comment
  1. Jim 11 months ago
    Reply

    I have had the honor and privilege of playing Taps for many of America’s fallen. I’m a trumpet player. I did this service while in the US Military and as a civilian, on call from a couple of Veterans’ groups. It’s been a while, I’ve lost my lip, but I would do it again – with some serious practice.

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