Sunday, January 25, 2009

Remembering Vietnam

Yesterday I was going through a box that contained photographs, old greeting cards and letters which really brought back some memories. Some things were within the last few years and some went way, way back. This post is going back to childhood....

We lived in the average neighborhood in the 60's where everyone's mother had the Jackie Kennedy look and children ruled the block. Every home had at least 3 kids and you always had someone to play with. We lived on a very important corner lot with one road leading to the copper mill that my dad worked at and the other leading to a brand new Air Force Base. Life was good and as children, our most pressing responsibility was to make sure we were home in time for dinner. THAT was the cardinal rule!

However, a young bachelor AirForce pilot rented the house next to ours for a few years. I remember him as very handsome and always so friendly to all the neighborhood children. He was the only adult that would have time to play ball with us and we had a grand time with him. Now, this was the Vietman War era and as young children we may have been sheltered from the reality of that war, but I soon found out what was really happening.

As all military personel, he was sent on his mission and I would write to him and he always wrote back. Until one day I received this letter from his mother:

6 November 1967
Dear Valerie:
The letter you wrote to Joe (Capt Joseph T Kearns) AP San Francisco, was sent back to us.

Joe has been missing in Vietnam since June 3rd. That is the reason he didn't write, I gather from your letter that he must have dropped you a note now and then since you mentioned you hadn't had a letter in a long time.

Well, Valerie, it was nice of you to write to him and I know Joe was very happy to hear from you. Now if you could remember Joe in your prayers so that he will return home safely some day, that would be very nice.

I will keep your letters for him. He will be glad to know that you got the nice 100 in your printing. You print very nicely for a girl who just turned 8 years old!!!

Be a good girl, Valerie, and don't forget to pray.
Joe's mother

After finding this letter yesterday, I searched the web for missing Vietnam soldiers. Joe was officially listed as killed in 1978. I can't imagine his mother hoping for over 10 years that her son may still be alive.

I have not kept many things from my childhood, but I have always kept this letter. I will always have a place in my heart for Joe - the handsome pilot in his Air Force uniform who gave his life during the Vietnam War.


ChamberryCherry said...

oh...that brings tears to my are such a wonderful person to hold his memory so close and his letters closer...wonderful story to share---thanks

marciamenendez said...

What a wonder piece of your childhood. It helps us remember that things aren't always as they should be. Thoughts to you, Joe's mother and Joe.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that brings tears to my eyes as well.

My six year old wants to make some care packages for soldiers. We really need to get our act in gear and start doing it.

Lorissa J. Longfellow said...

Wow. I really don't know what to say except thanks for sharing this with us. As with Denita, it brought tears to my eyes.

Momma J said...

Thank you for sharing this lovely story Val.

Welcome said...

Puts things in perspective. Thanks for sharing.

Shanell said...

okay, I flat out cried! That is beautiful, Val. Thanks for sharing. I will say an extra prayer tonight for those fighting and that have fought for our freedom.

Anonymous said...

My name is Dan Giantonio my father was a POW of the Japanese in WWII. We had a special feeling for the POW's in Vietnam as they endured the same situation as my father. I have a pow bracelet with Joseph T. Kearns name on it and wore it for years during the war. I would like to give it to one of the family members who would be interested in having it.