For a Friend

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I think of you especially, today, as I see the red geraniums and small American flags on the graves in the cemetery. Later, there’ll be a parade in your honor and for all who so bravely gave their lives for our country. Over the years, your family missed you every day—especially around their holiday tables or even doing simple things like going to a ball game or having a picnic.

You went to Vietnam just out of high school—you knew its jungles and heat as those in other wars knew the snow and mud, the heat and sand. You were so far away from home and, as all soldiers did, appreciated the letters and packages your family sent.

There’s a tree planted in your honor at the grammar school where we went.

I’ve read the plaque with your name on it and touched your name on the travelling Vietnam war memorial; both took me back through the years and brought tears to my eyes.

You died so young. You never had a chance to live your full life, have children and grandchildren. Yet, you can rest in peace knowing that children today live in freedom because of your sacrifices, and that of all who have died in wars. I have never forgotten you,  you were my friend who died too young—like so many others.