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It’s become a habit,

seeing these old guys around town

as they shuffle through stores

with their Vietnam caps or T-shirts.

I can’t help myself as I ask,

“when were you in Vietnam?”

Don’t know why I ask

except, maybe, to strike up a conversation

about those days

which are ancient history to today’s youth

yet, to me, seem like yesterday.

We were draftees dragged into a reality

we wanted nothing to do with,

confronting enemies we had not created

and losing friends over a nebulous cause,

one created by members of that “Greatest Generation”

who failed to notice that the world they knew

had changed

and that we could not ever win

these military excursions with such flimsy excuses..

These soldiers and sailors are proud of their service

and rightly so in spite of the protests,

and the antiwar rallies of the 60’s and early 70’s.

It’s a fraternity of aging warriors

who become instant friends,

perhaps, to heal the wounds that were never treated.