Vietnam vets still comrades

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I was in the waiting room of the Auburn Veteran’s Administration’s health care clinic when a man came in to sit across from me. He was wearing a well-worn baseball cap with large white letters across the top, “Vietnam.” Directly below was a row of multi-colored military ribbons signifying to me that he had distinguished himself in the real life horror of combat. Our names were called almost simultaneously. Mine to the V.A. psychologist and his to the V.A. psychiatrist. As we stood we began to stare at a picture — a man standing in front of the Vietnam War Memorial Wall in Washington D.C., his head lowered to his chest, both palms pressed flat against its cold glossy surface, a briefcase next to a beer can, a boot and a medal. Six shadowy figures mirroring out of the depths of the ominous black granite wall, soldiers, M-16 rifles, helmets, flack jackets, camouflaged paint on faces of very young men aged by the terror of war. One soldier has his right arm through the wall placed on the businessman’s left shoulder; another soldier has his palm pressed against the businessman’s palms. Our names were called again. As we turned, our eyes met. He was weeping, mine were tearing, and I did what I could to guide him toward his doctor’s office. Time had stood still; the doctors and I had witnessed a spiritual healing taking place that no human being on earth will ever duplicate. Dedicated to those who have known war and to those who love those who have known war. GENE BAKER, Meadow Vista