I have been here before, in the dark,
We slipped, silently hugging the coastline
Like a great metal dragon
To ready ourselves, To strike,
For the moment when the dragon would rise
up and roar,
Spewing out fire, heat , smoke and death
Upon an unseen enemy in a never ending
The heat and sweat covers my brow in the
To anticipate what is to come in the dark
of early morning.
Not wanting to kill, yet unwilling to die.
With no way out - no alternatives, but
to let the dragon strike.
Quiet moments before the storm.
Within myself, within the dragon's belly.
Rights, wrongs and regrets hang in the
still night air
Pain is in my guts and my heart shows on
No secrets here, only these dark moments
before the violence,
before the thunder.
Then... the sky opens and the shoreline
is bright with dragon's breath.
Our ship is shaken with each strike.
The recoil, the smell of gunpowder, the
awesome power of the dragon is felt to the soul --
sights and sounds that fill the years and
cannot be forgotten.
Does the dragon remember?
Do the people recall the raining thunder
Were they the enemy or were we? Or
is the enemy within?
Yes I was there, in the darkness, years
Now in the darkness of a hospital room.
The sights and sounds come alive once more.
The sweat on my brow soaks my pillow.
In the quiet before the storm,
sounds of metal trays and metal wheels
on polished floors,
the pain in my guts and my heart still
Fighting an unseen enemy in a never ending
Lying in the dark., anticipating what is
not wanting to die. There is no way out
and no alternatives.
Quiet moments before the storm, in a hospital
bed at the end of the hall.
In the darkness within myself, regrets,
rights and wrongs hang
in the still night air.
No secrets here, only fear in the dark
I have been here in the darkness before.
I am now a veteran of two wars.
I wait now in the dark. The battle
will begin anew.
No medals here -- no heroes.
Heroes are those who endure, those who
fight, not for nations,
but for life and loved ones.
The enemy is within now. Perhaps
it has always been so.
Seeds planted years ago are now growing.
Along with the rain of thunder we unleashed,
we poured dioxin on the enemy,
to take the life from their land.
Now is the time to pay for our mistakes.
Wounded by a bullet fired years ago on
a hot summer night,
sweat on my brow and fear in my heart,
and a war still rages in my memory, my
heart and my blood.
Perhaps in the darkness, in the quiet before
the storm, we can find answers
to questions we never asked..
Perhaps others will come to see the wounds
suffered so long ago and realize
that we are a result of a war gone wrong.
Remember us as veterans who served and
ultimately gave our all
for the country we love.
I am more than a cancer patient.
I am a veteran wounded in action by a bullet
that missed organs but
struck my soul --
a wound that surgeons cannot fix and time
Do not let us die in vain.
Nelson C. Hughes
Mr. Hughes, a member of the Vietnam
War In Memory Memorial, Inc. advisory board, is undergoing treatment
for non-Hodgkins lymphoma linked to his wartime service experience.
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