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Denebola » Article » Letter from Vietnam
50th Edition, News

Letter from Vietnam

By Denebola
Published: February 2011

To the seniors of 1968:
The year is coming to an end; you’re stepping out into the world. I can still remember when I was a senior and the things that I looked forward to.
But you are all in for a surprise! Things are not going to work out as you want them too. So I would advise you to PLAN wisely.
Some of you may find yourselves over here, in Vietnam.
You seniors are the leaders of tomorrow. Sounds funny, doesn’t it? Take a look around you.
You’ve got to be kidding, you say. I wish I were. But I’m not. Over here, I’ve seen people die and 18 year olds take over and become leaders. True, combat does make you mature faster, if you live through it. After you’ve been here a while, you look at the world around you, and everything is different. How many of you, I wonder, could take the hysical and mental hardships that are faced here everyday?
You’re asking yourself, hat’s he talking about?
Just this – SENIORS:
You’ve had it easy up to now – be ready for the hard times. And don’t ever get discouraged, for there are people who are having it harder than you.
You have all the luxuries that we dream about. What luxuries? A good night’s sleep on a bed instead of in a foxhole, hot chow, a cold beer and a steak.
But let me ask you this – is it luxury to you? Do you know the meaning of liberty and freedom? I too used to take it all for granted. But now I’m fighting for those ideals and I’ve come to know what the words freedom and liberty mean.
The guys who are here are no different than you, excpt that they are 18 fighting to make 19. You may ask, “What hardships does a guy here face?” Well, he can break down his rifle in 30 seconds, put it back together in 29, explain ho a grenade and a machine gun operates and use either if the need arises, dig a foxhole, apply first aid to a wounded buddy, march unil is told to stop or stop until he is told to march.
He has stood among hills of bodies and has helped to build those hills. He has cried in public and in private and is not ashamed of it, for his pals have fallen in battle and he has come close to joining them.
He has two pairs of fatigues, washes one and wears the other.
He forgets to brush his teeth but not his rifle.
He keeps hi socks dry and canteens full. He cooks his own meals, fixes his own hurts, mends his own rips – material and mental.
He does the work of two civilians, draws half the pay of one, and finds ironic humor in it all.
He works from dawn to dusk, and often longer. He has learned to use his hands as his weapons and his weapons as his hands.
He can save a life and most assuredly take one.
Yes, Senior Class of ’68, you’ve got it hard, haven’t you? Are you 19, a veteran, and fighting hard to make 20? Well, very shortly, you just might be.
So think over carefully what I’ve just said. Plan your future with care and you’ll make it through rough roads.
Best of luck to each and every one of you upon entering the adult world. The responsibilities and obligations are now yours…handle them well.

A 1966 South graduate, now serving his hitch in the DMZ
Steve Emmanuel
I Co. 3rd Battalion 21st Marines.

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