Monday, May 25, 2015

A Conversation With My Brother, Patrick, A Vietnam Veteran on Memorial Day

Last night, along with millions of others, I watched the PBS Memorial Day Concert in DC.
I usually watch each year.
For years, our family watched together.  We went to a friend's picnic, Dad played with other wonderful musicians and we watched the Capitol Concert on TV at the Mall in DC.
Last night, the focus was on wounded veterans. The stories told touched my heart and my eyes filled with tears.
Bridget Mary and brother Patrick

I called my brother, Patrick, who served in Vietnam to thank him for his service.
 He was drafted after high school.

I entered the convent in 1966, and was learning the ropes of nunhood 101, but , like thousands of other soldiers, Patrick was in harms' way thousands of miles away.

Patrick wrote a few times from Vietnam.  I could tell it was pretty bad. He was with the 101st Airborn division. He got hit once with sharpnal, but it was not a serious injury. He served his complete tour.

 I wrote to him assuring him that the nuns were praying.

At that time,  nuns did not watch TV or get the daily newspaper, so I was not exposed to the daily horrors of war. 

Fortunately, he came home without any visible scars. It was not until years later we found a medal of honor in a box in our garage. Patrick rarely said anything about the war to me or to my parents. He served his country honorably . After returning home,  he  went on with his life, married Valerie, and stayed close to family and friends. 

Later we learned of his exposure to Agent Orange. 

Today when Patrick and I finally  connected on the phone,he said that he watched the concert last night.  With a catch in his voice, "In wars, no one wins, both sides suffer and die."
I thanked him for his service. We said, "I love you. "

We will see each other in a few weeks. 

But for many families, that will not be the case.

 So today, I am remembering their sacrifices. They paid the ultimate price. 

In other cases, the  physical and emotional scars take many years to heal, and sometimes never heal. 

So sad.

Let us pray for and work for peace and justice, but never forget those who have given everything and suffered  losses and grief that last a lifetime.  


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