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Memorial Day Conversation: Honor the Fallen and the Vets Who Carry the Burdens

Below is a two-part conversation I had with Rick Belt, who served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Vietnam War. (read the rest below the video)

 

Rick did two tours of duty in Vietnam and he shares with me on the taped Ghion Cast his memory of what war was like and the war that began in the minds of many veterans long after the last bullet has been stilled. The article “Blessed Are the Peace Keepers” (link) was inspired in large part by my conversation with Rick and the daily interactions I’ve been fortune enough to had with him over the past couple of weeks.

As you watch the video, let us remember always to honor the sacrifice veterans make and to never conflate a stand against war as a stand against vets. To vets, the horrors of war is not just an abstract injustice, war is a horror many continue to live through. So let us, as a nation and as as people, do all that we can to support veterans and to make sure that we take care of those who fought for this nation. Thank you veterans world wide, you are true heroes in an age of anti-heroes. #HonorTheFallen

A heart felt thank you to William, a Vietnam era veteran who served in Japan who I just met a few hours ago at my job. Service is service for valor is found in those who put on the uniform regardless of where they were stationed. Likewise thank you to the Vietnam war veteran I just met at Wendy’s while waiting for my ride. The struggles you went through and the ten years of hardship you faced after you returned state-side is one that endless veterans face and go through. May god bless; I am profoundly grateful that you were able to fight through your struggles and that you can share a good time with your grandchildren. I wrote the poem below the video for veterans just like you. God bless you and may He always be with you and continue to mend you, heal all veterans and mend this world. May one day love be the guiding light that binds all of humanity.

“Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.” ~ John F. Kennedy

If you appreciate this article and more importantly understand the sacrifices veterans have given, share this article on social media using #HonorTheFallen

Silent Salute 

To the soldiers who sacrificed
Did their duty without asking
I express outrage against injustice
Over immoral wars and endless carnage
I am speaking out for you in the process
 
Veterans in the end understand one thing
Their fellow men were never their enemy
To this day fierce rivals from past conflicts
Embrace after the last bullets have been fired
 
Soldiers salute and do their duty that is best
The sorrows they go through alone
Trauma induced by bodies and reduced humanity
Only to come back home and encounter Satan’s embrace
 
Flash backs prompting cold sweats
Bullets and blood droplets
Too much for the mind to process
Those who die in wars are fortunate
It’s the veterans, the survivors
Who carry the burdens of these remembrances
 
Fallen comrades and innocent children
Indiscriminately swallowed whole by turbulence
Tears mixing with blood stains
Cries drowned out by battle drums
War is humanity’s utmost blemish
 
Concealed by propaganda and theatrics
Patriotism birthing negligence
Our conscience is subverted into ignorance
As we enjoy disengagement’s bliss
Veterans suffer depression’s kiss
Politicians, profiteers and Hollywood
Glorifying war horrors by bending reality
Obfuscating suffering with special effects and rhetoric
 
But to the soldier their truth is the opposite
Rat-tat-tat-tat bullets shattering God’s presence
Untold masses disappearing into graves and silence
We wave flags thanking them for service
They shiver alone bearing the cost of compliance
Final judgments by way of triggers and buttons
 
Only to come back home
Shock and awe replaced by shock trauma
Nightmares that never end
Being continually transported back to mayhem
The battle field redrawn into the mind’s synapses
Piercing quietness with shrieks and terrors
 
Spouses who grow estranged
Children unable to comprehend
Concern pixelating into absence
Loneliness the only friend that remains
The proud and few become islands
Invisible wounds breaking cognizance
This is why so many end up homeless
Many more embracing suicide’s cuddle
Despair muffles life and blends into darkness
To be met by society’s mind numbing indifference
 
We step over them daily
Once warriors turned into the indigent
Salutes being returned with diffidence
Yet in this silence I stand for you
May God forever bless you
Where you are broken
May you mend into fullness
 
Sergeant Black in DC
Vietnam War survivor
Gunny Stevens in Greenville
Korean War survivor
Derrick in Colorado
Iraq War survivor
Frank in Ankeny Iowa
World War II survivor
Countless others who I have met
Had the honor of sharing meals with
May your struggles be fleeting
But your blessings be eternal
In silence I salute you
~ The two poems are excerpts from Serendipity’s Trace, a book I wrote while I was in a boot camp called life which led to a harvest called purpose. ~
Teodrose Fikre
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Teodrose Fikre

Founder at Ghion Journal
Teodrose Fikre is the editor and founder of the Ghion Journal. A published author and prolific writer, a once defense consultant was profoundly changed by a two year journey of hardship and struggle. Going from a life of upper-middle class privilege to a time spent with the huddled masses taught Teodrose a valuable lesson in the essence of togetherness and the need to speak against injustice.

Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.
Teodrose Fikre
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