Memorial Day, 1995

the Wall, Washington DC - #8 Cover

cover drawing by Ferrilyn Sourdiffe

(based on a drawing for "Memorial Day, 1993", by Lisa Parker

 

The Memorial Day issue is dedicated to all men and women who have given their lives in military service or lost their lives in war. But even the survivors of war lose a part of themselves, so the special issue is also dedicated to all whose lives are touched by war or terrorism, and to the hope that people will learn to settle their disputes without resorting to violence.

Most of the work in this powerful and moving issue
was contributed by veterans and military personnel.

Echoes is a bimonthly magazine of enjoyable stories, poetry, and drawings by people in all walks of life. No literary criticism or pretentious poetry, just good stories and poetry by people like you, including many veterans, military personnel and their family members.

We plan to publish a special edition for Memorial Day or Veterans' Day every year. You do not have to be a veteran or in the armed forces to contribute, and we are open to all points of view - but we will not accept any work that puts down people who serve in the armed forces.

Our regular issues have also included many stories and poems about Vietnam, Hiroshima, and the war of 1812; about everyday life in the military, people coping with loss, veterans dealing with their experience, and veterans haunted by people they had to kill in combat, to name just a few. These stories and poems show the same personal insight you find throughout our magazine.

photo of the Wall

Home More about the annual Memorial Day issues How to order Table of Contents

   

Table of Contents

full or partial text is available where highlighted

 

Stories

Soft Rain Falling by Carole Bellacera

Miming the Lieutenant by Theron Montgomery

Five Stars in the Window by the Lone Driver

Poetry

Memorial Day, 1993 by Lisa Parker
Oklahoma by Jim Lamoreux
Walking Point by Ron Germundson
The Fisherman by Ron Germundson
Buster Seven by D. Thomas Lang
Hiroshima by Alan Howard
Boys: Dead and Gone by Cliff H. Leonard
Angel, by Jim Lamoreux
Once There Were Four by Duane Goodridge
Requiem for a Warrior by Duane Goodridge
Food Chain by Jerry H. Jenkins
Road to Richmond by Jerry H. Jenkins
To Those Who Served by Timothy C. Hall
And the Drum Beats On by Robyn Kehoe

Illustrations by Nita Hughes and Ferrilyn Sourdiffe



© Copyright 1995 Echoes Magazine

All stories, poems, and drawings are protected by copyright and may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any form, by copying or by any electronic or mechanical means, without written permission from Echoes Magazine. Individual stories and poems are also copyright by their authors; drawings are copyright by Echoes Magazine and by the artists.


DO YOU. . .

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See the Echoes Home Page for more information!


Soft Rain Falling

by Carole Bellacera

Following is a brief excerpt from the story:

The World stretched out beneath the lumbering belly of the C-131. His section of The World, anyway. Captain Michael Ito peered out the tiny porthole of the cargo plane. That was his island down there. Oahu. Soon, for the first time in sixteen months, he would step upon its familiar soil.

In a matter of moments, he would walk away from the plane with its cargo of coffins, away from Hickam Air Force Base, away from the military, and home to Waialua...if only for a few days.

His eyes squinted in the bright afternoon sun as he stepped out onto the steps that led to the tarmac. Images passed through his mind. Of the ones left behind at the base camp, their bodies torn and blackened and bloody. He snapped his sunglasses on and slowly made his way down the steps. The trade winds brushed his face. He turned toward the breeze for a moment and stood silently, his eyes closed. But he wasn't praying. That was beyond him now.

No one knew he was coming home. The R&R hadn't been scheduled. It had been ordered by Colonel Atwater after the incident. Emotional breakdown, they called it. Mike knew they were wrong. It had nothing to do with emotions -- not the way they meant, at least. It was anger. Pure and simple anger. Vietnam had a way of doing it. Making one angry, frustrated and finally, apathetic. Mike knew he wasn't the only field doctor who felt that way. But perhaps he was the only one who was going to do something about it.

At Hickam's passenger terminal he caught the bus. He'd have to make several transfers before he made it home to Waialua, but he didn't mind. He needed time before he had to face his parents. Somehow, between now and the time he got home, he would have to drop his army doctor persona and become their son again. Thanks to Irene, he wouldn't have to pretend to be the loving husband -- after filing for divorce, she'd packed up her belongings and moved to the mainland. San Francisco, his mother had written.

He didn't care anymore. Somehow, Vietnam had deadened him to everything he used to care about.

It began to rain as the bus came to his stop. He hoisted his duffle bag onto his shoulder and stepped off. The rain was soft against his face. It was the only thing about Hawaii that reminded him of Vietnam. The soft rain. He hated the rain of Vietnam because it should've been cleansing; instead, it reeked of blood. But in his childhood, he'd loved Hawaii's rain. The way it would arrive so unexpectedly, a shower of fine mist that cooled and moistened the skin for a moment and then moved away.

As he stood in the tropical rain shower, his duffel bag at his feet, Hawaii began to disappear and he was in the Southeast Asian jungle, surrounded by wet glistening fronds of greenery.

Suddenly he heard the sound he'd come to dread. The beating whop-whop-whop of the choppers bringing in the wounded. Every day, any hour of the day. He saw the kid's face. Black and grimy and smudged with blood. The grunt's blue eyes blazed out at him in pain and trust.

"It's not too bad, is it, Doc? You aren't gonna let me die, are you?" Quickly, Mike hoisted his duffle bag onto his shoulder and began to walk home through the soft rains of Hawaii . . .

 

© 1995 Carole Bellacera

Carole served as a medical technician in the Air Force and met her husband (recently retired after 21 years of service) there. Carole is now a prize-winning writer.

[Table of Contents]


Memorial Day, 1993

by Lisa Parker

I saw Vietnam for real today,
not from the words of textbooks and teachers.
I saw it in its most raw form:
Primitive, wounding, private, and moving,
I was touched by a generation I was not a part of.
I saw the Wall in its entirety,
that immense black testament to the pain
of human lives reduced to marks on a rock.
Its smooth surface, warm with hands
reaching, touching, rubbing, connecting.
It offers open arms and solace to those who served,
the recognition, dignity, and respect they deserved
and were never rightly given
from their country, their fellow Americans.
In replacement of human arms to comfort them,
they take what refuge they can in a slab of black marble.
A man with no legs and seven medals
saluted that wall and wept openly.
I reeled at the irony of the image and
knew that I couldn't hide behind the textbooks anymore.
Once you have seen that kind of reality you are forever changed.
I touched that wall and I cried:
Cried for the wounded with their tarnished medals,
for my own late understanding,
for the sick beauty of flowers against the blackness.
I looked at the Wall with its silent mourning,
at the legless man with his head in his hands,
and the capital was silent but for a
Lonely trumpet stilling the air with "Taps".

© 1993 Lisa Parker

This poem was accompanied by the drawing of the Wall by Ferrilyn Sourdiffe, which also appeared as the cover drawing

Lisa is a graduate student at Penn State who has appeared in Echoes several times. Many veterans have commented on her sensitivity to the situation shown in this poem, which she wrote while she was a student at George Mason University.

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Home

Walking Point

by Ron Germundson

Some fifty miles north of Great Falls, Montana
Along highway 223
A small ranch lies cradled under the deep blue Montana sky
I can see him there
The wooden porch covered in shade
His elbows resting on the arms of his metal chair.

I told Bill he should go visit
Even though I new the kind of pain
That would accompany him on his journey.

"Walking point carries a lot of responsibility,"
Bill said.

The responsibility has never left him
It has lead him to attempt suicide
It has taken him to treatment
It dragged him across Europe and down into India.

"Go see Ellis," I said over a cup of hot coffee.
"It's time to give it up," I said
Take a long look at yourself
You're not that same person that walked point in 1969.

Ellis was blown to hell
Lost both legs above the knee
Just five clicks from LZ Uplift
It was one of those volunteer missions
A piece of cake the CO said.

"I never saw the fuckin' trip-wire," Bill said.

In the last twenty-five years
Bill has probably replayed that 100-meter walk
through Van Troung a million times.

I told him go see your friend
You might find some answers
You might finally find some peace.

It took some time, and lots of prodding
But Bill left last week from Portland
He's driving east heading for that small ranch
That lies under the deep blue Montana sky that never ends.

© 1995 Ron Germundson

Ron Germundson is a veteran of the Vietnam war, where he served with the Army 173rd Airborne Brigade. He started writing in 1985, and later joined Veterans For Peace, speaking to students about the realities of war. Ron is a freelance photographer and works part-time doing recreational therapy for youths with drug and alcohol problems at a hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is also working on a children's book.

 

[Table of Contents]


Angel

by Jim Lamoreux

Tines of static anger, pointing viscous red fingers
and shaping explosions wherever the anger touches.
And the shouts, the horn blowing, the screams
and a voice almost in his ear barks,
"They're coming over the wire!"
In terror he begins to feed the belt into the breech of the
machine gun crying all the time, frantically scanning
the darkness
and they're everywhere, swarming over the pods
The heat from the machine gun
warms his hands
and someone yells, "Dee Dee mau man, they're here!"
And it's too late because right there in front
of the TV set
six N.V.A. have discovered him but just as he
opens his mouth to scream his death agony
a cool hand presses
to his forehead
and a familiar voice murmurs
in his ear

"Come on back honey, you're home now. "

and he smells her smell, feels warm arms holding his
sweating head and his tears dampen the comfortable fabric
of her nightgown

and he finally stops shaking

As the Angel of the battlefield
brings him home again.

© 1994 Jim Lamoreux


Angel of the battlefield
illustration by Nita Hughes

 

Jim Lamoreux was stationed at one of the largest ammo dumps in South Vietnam. He currently works for the federal government and as a freelance artist and designer.

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Five Stars in the Window

by The Lone Driver

 

Following is a brief excerpt from the story:

 1941 was quite a year. Our nation declared war on three countries--Germany, Italy and Japan. I was five years old, and the events of December 7 remain one of my earliest memories.

As news of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and President Roosevelt's declaration of war on Japan reached our farmhouse in Northern Minnesota, my older brothers gathered around the huge radio. I had seven older brothers, and they were talking about enlisting or waiting for the draft. Two joined the navy and three became soldiers. Five brothers went off to fight the war, and my mother hung a small blue flag in our kitchen window. On the flag, set in a circle, were five white stars.

Most of my childhood memories were connected to war. The dramatic voices of news broadcasters came through the big battery radio that sat squat and portentous in the corner of our living room. I could hear bombs exploding, and the static of the short wave transmissions sounded like the roar of the oceans those broadcasts crossed.

Even at home our lives were affected. We were told to grow Victory Gardens because food was rationed. Gasoline was rationed too, and it was almost impossible to get a set of tires. We had "black-out" drills where we put blankets over the windows so the enemy couldn't see our house if they tried to bomb us at night.

On Saturday nights the farmers went to town. The mothers sat on benches in the grocery store or in the cafe and talked about the war. The men sat in the tavern and drank beer and talked about the war. The kids went to the picture show. I liked Roy Rogers and Gene Autry, but I was even more fascinated by the newsreels, The March of Times. Grim-faced soldiers staring out of muddy trenches, young sailors firing sixteen-inch guns off battleships, mothers holding babies and waving good-bye to soldiers riding off on a troop train. "Time marches on."

My mother wrote letters to my brothers on special lightweight stationery like tissue paper. She walked up the dirt road to the mailbox and returned with the St. Paul Pioneer Press. She spread the newspaper across the kitchen table and called me to her side. I saw maps of places I had never heard of, and listened to my mother as she pointed to ugly black arrows showing the advancing allied forces moving toward the Rhine, marching on Berlin. The Pacific maps showed more arrows, many little islands and drawings of tiny ships moving across the waters. She took a pencil and wrote in the names of my brothers on the maps, pinpointing their locations as close as she could determine from their letters.

One day she showed me a copy of Life magazine. She pointed to a picture of six mean-looking men standing erect in their black overcoats. In the middle was a strange face with a small black mustache. She tapped on his face with her finger and said, "That's the man your brothers are fighting against. He is very bad, and if God is not on our side, he might win the war." The next day at our country school, I found his picture in the Book of Knowledge encyclopedia and drew an "X" over his face with a red crayon.

My youngest brother, Arthur, was the last to be called--drafted out of high school at the age of eighteen. . . .

 

© Copyright 1995 The Lone Driver

The Lone Driver is a regular feature of Echoes. Some years ago he gave up his home in suburban New Jersey and took to the road in a pickup camper, in a continuing search for adventure and knowledge. He made his first public appearance as a regular feature on WMMT-Radio, in Whitesburg, Kentucky. (3/96)

 

[Table of Contents]


Once There Were Four

Duane Goodridge

 

Once there were four but now only one,
but for chance there would be none.
There were four dreams but three were lost,
for the sake of freedom a horrible cost.

Four stood together and made a toast,
a reunion someday, an ill-fated boast.
An untried band of unknown merit,
united in a bond of comrade spirit.

Four set off and went to war,
one will return of the original four.
Quang Ngai took the first of our little band,
the first to die in a foreign land.

In a firefight in the vill of Tam Ky,
death sounded again its reveille.
Will the death dirge sound again once more,
there are only two of the original four.

The war moved north to the DMZ,
where death arose for number three.
On the slopes of Hill 881 he fell,
another peal of death's fateful bell.

I alone remain, I know not why,
how I could live and others die.
At night whenever a warm wind blows,
I recall again those ill-fated vows.

I see their faces in all my dreams,
they beckon to me, or so it seems.
They gave me medals, a hero's due,
I came home, my war was through.

They say I'm a hero, I stood up well,
but inside I live a personal hell.
A war still raging that can never be won,
my friends' war is over but mine has begun.

© 1994 Duane Goodridge

Duane is a decorated Marine Corps veteran who served two years in Vietnam. He is now retired, but remains active in veterans' affairs. Several of Duane's poems have been featured in Echoes.

[Table of Contents]



Food Chain

by Jerry H. Jenkins

Japanese Cruisers Sunk Off Guadalcanal

 

They lie there,
green and gathering coral,
as mausoleums gather lichen.

Light ripples on the anemones
that keep the memory
of pennants alive.

Groupers circle the turrets,
astonished, sullen cruisers
in a ring.

Hundreds of feet from
bow to stern, dense,
massive, collapsed, inert.

Indigo places of gears, wheels,
plates, tunnels, rungs,
tubes, chains, slime-furred rails.

Intricate, dark, final;
broken clockwork,
hands stilled at two a.m.

The long shuddering has stopped,
the last light extinguished,
no one to notice
the silence it leaves
in these steel labyrinths.

All that could sink
is at bottom,
all that could float
or was soft is gone

to the fishes and coral,
to the sea where it all began
and where it is ended.

The food chain stops here.
The steel is the last to go.

 

© 1995 Jerry H. Jenkins

Jerry H. Jenkins served in the Marine Corps for over twenty-six years, including a tour of duty in Vietnam, and earned numerous decorations, including the Legion of Merit. Jerry points out that his poetry about combat and war is based on real experience, but often uses a context removed from the immediacy of war. One of his sonnets was a finalist in the 1994 Nemerov Sonnet Competition and he recently took first place in a competition sponsored by Poetic Eloquence . Jerry's poems have been featured in several issues of Echoes. (3/95)

[Table of Contents]


Take a look at the 1996 & 1997 Memorial Day issues!

1996 M.D. cover1997 M.D. cover

 

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