We ponder what might have been

04/04/2014 4:03 PM

03/31/2014 4:56 PM

Re "A friend long gone, but never forgotten" (Dan Morain, March 30): As we graduated from high school in the 1960s, older brothers, dear friends and I had to contend with draft numbers and Vietnam. We didn't like LBJ and didn't fully understand why.

Several of my buddies went. I joined the military in 1967, but never left the states. Those who did go to Southeast Asia, and returned, often were taunted, mocked and spit on back in America.

My friend, Bruce, still weeps when he speaks about the Central Highlands. My dear friend Glen died last year, but not before spending decades of waking up in the middle of the night to deal with black-clad pajama Viet Cong sitting on his bedroom dresser staring him down.

Another friend and classmate, Brent, came home from Vietnam but was burned and wasted by heroin. He walked the streets of our hometown for many years, lived in different places where he could be helped, then died 15 years ago.

I was home on leave in 1968, when my friend, Blaine, a Marine, came home to our valley, in a box.

I have stood at The Wall in Washington and etched his name onto a paper. Last year when the traveling wall came to Mount Vernon in Orangevale, we took some of our children and some of our grandchildren to see, to listen and to feel.

To Rocky Cole and Gordon Smith, and many others, we ponder what might have been.

-- Jon B. Fish, Orangevale

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