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2004-09-05 19:40:42 (UTC)

Hero's Medals

Steven served two tours in Vietnam, the first in the late
1960's. Even though he was wounded and spent three months
in the hospital, I'm sure part of his confidence that he'd
return home safe to me was because he had had that
experience. He had enlisted after almost two years at
university because his best friend had been drafted and
because he truly believed there was good reason to go to
war. By mid 1972, while he still believed in what he was
doing, he was angry with the politicians and the lack of
support on the homefront. Certainly other wars had been
unpopular but this was the first one where soldiers in
uniform were glared at, spit upon and called baby killers in
public. And yes, some of that came about because of people
like John F. Kerry and the lies he repeated, under oath, in
testimony to Congress. And it was that summer that Jane
Fonda went to Hanoi and what she did there was, to me as
well as to many others, treason. It is any wonder I didn't
talk about much about my husband, then or for many years

There's a movie I've heard about but have never seen. It's
about a man who's doomed to repeat living the same day, over
and over again. I feel like that sometimes except for me
it's a year. In winter I think about preparing to marry and
our wedding, in the spring about the few fleeting days we
had together scattered throughout those months, in summer
to when he left and how I waited, my life revolving around
letters, and as autumn comes, of the rains that will soon
begin, how I was told he'd died, his funeral and the loss of
our daughter. Autumn was once my favorite season; it is no
more. And when winter comes, the cycle of memories begins
once again.
A close friend asked me recently about Steven's medals and
decorations. It's not something I like to talk or even
think about but I thought she deserved an answer so I made a
list. There was a Good Conduct Medal, a Parachutist Badge,
an Aircraft Crewman Badge, a National Defense Service Medal
with three overseas bars and a Vietnam Service Medal with
two bronze and one silver service star. Then there were the
others--two Army Commendation Medals (one for Valor); two
Air Medals (one for Valor), two Bronze Stars and two Purple

When I'd spoken to one of the veterans who'd known Steven he
told me that the little stars on the service medal
represented campaigns; a bronze represented one campaign and
a silver represented five. I hadn't known that. And while
there are official papers which explain why those medals
were given it was he who gently gave me details and
answered my questions when I asked

They are only small pieces of metal and fabric but oh! they
are so much more to me!