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It will be obvious by this page that I was opposed to the war in Vietnam. I feel we should never have gotten involved and if we did it could have been handled much better. I understand and support those who declined to participate. However, I am also proud of those who served in the military during those years--whether they felt it was right or just something they had to do. It was a time of difficult choices and few right answers.


But You Didn't

Remember the time you let me borrow your car,
and I dented it?
I thought you'd kill me . . .
But you didn't.

And remember the time I spilled punch
all over your rug?
I thought you'd hit me . . .
But you didn't.

And the time I dragged you to the beach
and you said it would rain?
And it did!
I thought you'd say "I told you so" . . .
But you didn't.

Remember the time I forgot to tell you
the dance was formal
and you showed up in jeans?
I thought you'd drop me . . .
But you didn't.

And the time I flirted with another boy
to make you jealous?
And you were!
I thought you'd leave me . . .
But you didn't.

There were lots of things you didn't do.
But there were more things
you did do.
You put up with me and you loved me
and protected me.

And there were so many things
I wanted to tell you
and make up to you
when you returned from Viet Nam . . .
But you didn't.

The Courage to Act

(Janet Snyder in The Wichita Eagle-Beacon)

I can't understand the arguments used by some of the people who are opposed to amnesty; specifically, those used by Arnold Nichols in his March 4 letter to the Public Forum. At best, his position seems to be based on an emotional patriotic loyalty.

Nichols says that he feels sorry for the families whose "boys" would not defend our country. How can those who refused to be drafted be held guilty of failure to defend America. Vietnam was never a question of American freedom and liberty being at stake. American soil was never attacked; therefore, it never needed to be defended.

Mr. Nichols also asks us to think of the "boys" who have died and who are now lying in the cemeteries. If the "dodgers" and "deserters" had had their way, these now dead men would never have been sent to Vietnam to be killed. Reminding us to "think of the dead boys" is merely an illogical attempt to rationalize something America feels guilty about--the deaths of so many innocent people with no visible accomplishments resulting.

Many "draft dodgers" and "deserters" are conscientious objectors who were denied deferments. Would you be willing to kill against your conscience? They weren't, and they had the courage to act according to their beliefs, in spite of the threat of legal prosecution.

Don't be too quick to condemn these people, and don't let emotional appeals affect your judgment of them.


(Helen Harrington)

Let me, if I will, abhor the sounds of war!
Do not force me to fly flags for bombs once more.
They are deafening, and my ears are sore.

I am a patriot of peace.
May I not, if I prefer,
listen to the gentle sound
of whispering, rustling in the ground,
And sense the quiet waters' flow,
And feel the roots of fruit trees stir
And hear grass grow?

One Tin Soldier

(Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter)

Listen children to a story that was written long ago
'bout a kingdom on a mountain and the valley folk below
On the mountain was a treasure buried deep beneath a stone
And the valley people swore, they'd have it for their very own.

So the people of the valley sent a message up the hill
Asking for the buried treasure, tons of gold for which they'd kill
Came an answer from the kingdom--with our brothers we will share
All the secrets of our mountain, all the riches buried there.

Now the valley cried with anger, mount your horses, draw your swords,
and they killed the mountain people, so they won their just reward
Now they stood beside the treasure, on the mountain dark and red
Turned the stone and looked beneath it
PEACE ON EARTH was all it said

Chorus: Go ahead and hate your neighbor, Go ahead and cheat a friend
Do it in the name of heaven, justify it in the end
There won't be any trumpet blowin'
Come that judgment day
On the bloody morning after
One Tin Soldier rides away

The Five Senses Interrogate the Experts

(from "The Secret Look" by Jessamyn West)

"What is this silence?" asks the ear.
"It is the lack of laughter that you hear."

"What is this darkness?" asks the eye.
"A flight of metal birds across the sky."

"What is this odor?" asks the nose.
"The scent a lack of living gives a rose."

"What is this blankness?" asks the hands.
"The place a man no longer stands."

"What can we say?" cry all the tongues.
"We cannot tell you. Ask the guns."

Laying a Wreath at Your Grave

(Brooke Howard)

Toy soldiers, toy guns;
Make-believe wars to assure
You grew manly--
And now, love-filled warrior,
You are gone . . .

Join the Army

Join the Army
Travel to exotic, distant lands.
Meet exciting, unusual people
and kill them.

The Weight of a Snowflake

"Tell me the weight of a snowflake," a coal mouse asked a wild dove. "Nothing more than nothing," responded the dove.
"In that case, I must tell you a marvelous story," the coal mouse said. "I sat on the branch of a fir, close to its trunk, when it began to snow, not heavily, not in a raging blizzard . . . no . . . just like in a dream, without any violence. Since I didn't have anything better to do, I counted the snowflakes settling on the twigs and needles of my branch. Their number was exactly 3,741,952. When the next snowflake dropped onto the branch weighing nothing more than nothing, as you say--the branch broke off."
Having said that, the coal mouse flew away. The dove, since Noah's time was an authority on the matter, thought about the story for awhile and finally said to herself--"Perhaps there is only one person's voice lacking for peace to come about in the world."

Battle Won is Lost

(Phil George)

The said, "You are no longer a lad."
I nodded.
They said, "Enter the council lodge."
I sat.
They said, "Our lands are at stake."
I scowled.
They said, "We are at war."
I hated.
They said, "Prepare red war symbols."
I painted.
They said, "Count coups."
I scalped.
They said, "You'll see friends die."
I cringed.
They said, "Desperate warriors fight best."
I charged.
They said, "Some will be wounded."
I bled.
They said, "To die is glorious."
They lied.

(Note: I know that 'counting coups' does not involve scalping
but that is the way the poem was written.)


(Randall Jarrell, 1963)

In bombers named for girls, we burned
The cities we had learned about in school--
Till our lives wore out; our bodies lay among
The people we had killed and never seen.
When we lasted long enough they gave us medals;
When we died they said, 'Our casualties were low.'

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

(Pete Seeger)

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing.
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago.
Where have all the flowers gone?
The girls have picked them, ev'ry one.
Oh, When will you ever learn?
Oh, When will you ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time passing.
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time ago.
Where have all the young girls gone?
They've taken husbands, ev'ry one.
Oh, When will you ever learn?
Oh, When will you ever learn?

Where have all the young men gone?
Long time passing.
Where have all the young men gone?
Long time ago.
Where have all the young men gone?
They're all in uniform
Oh, When will you ever learn?
Oh, When will you ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing.
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago.
Where have all the soldiers gone?
They've gone to graveyards, ev'ry one.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time passing.
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time ago.
Where have all the graveyards gone?
They're covered with flowers, ev'ry one.
Oh, when will you ever learn?
Oh, when will you ever learn?

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing.
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago.
Where have all the flowers gone?
Young girls picked them, ev'ry one.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

End War? Of Course! Leave it to a Few Experienced Mothers

(Erma Bombeck, 1981)

A group of women were discussing the draft the other night and we decided if we were invited to a war, we could well have the imagination to think of some way to terminate it.
I suggested the best way to stop a war was to ask the men for directions on how to get there. We'd never find it.
As the suggestions flowed in, we decided to make a list.

1.) Let Tim Conway make a series out of it and it would run only thirteen weeks.
2.) Put the war in the hands of the post office. It might not stop it, but it would certainly slow it down.
3.) Assign children to war zones and tell them they have to clean their rooms before they can go.
4.) Tell your husband it's something he has to dress up for.
5.) Transport troops via Amtrak.
6.) Have one-size-fits-all uniforms that are issued in little eggs.
7.) Schedule it on the same night Alan Alda is speaking to your child study group.
8.) Spread the rumor hair bleach will be in short supply until the war is over.
9.) Tell them the other side is fighting with a cellulite germ that makes thighs inflate upon impact.

Probably the best suggestion came from Barb, whose son graduated from high school and left home for the first time to join the Marine Corps. When he came home on leave he wasn't in the house five minutes before he engaged in a knock-down-drag-out fight with his 15-year-old brother.
Barb grabbed a wooden spoon, jumped between them, and gave them a look that would get her thirty years.
The separated and backed off. Barb figures the only way to end war is to draft experienced mothers, arm them with wooden spoons and "the look" and send them into battle.
You haven't seen desertion until you've seen children running from their mothers' tongues. You think you can't stand hearing "What do you think you're doing? Don't you have anything more constructive to do? Now, put down that gun before someone gets hurt!"

Ridiculous, you say? Not half as ridiculous as wars.


See the War Veteran's Poetry Archive for many war poems by Del 'Abe' Jones that illustrate the cost of war.

Songs about Peace