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he was a friend of mine

You and I
sitting in the middle of a war zone
strumming our guitars
and singing songs of peace

In the desiccated dust of the Delta
we sang, Where have all the flowers gone?
and laughed that the young girls had picked them
and stuck them in the rifle barrels
of the National Guardsmen
during riots back in
the Real World

We knew where all the young men had gone
The politicians
(for whom most soldiers were too young to vote)
had sent them to Vietnam
to fight a war of attrition
and imposed rules of engagement
which would not allow them to win

We made up our own words
to songs like
This land is their land,
This land’s not our land,
From Charlie’s jungles
To the monsoon rivers
From the land mined paddies
To the leech filled waters
This land’s not made for you and me

We knew the answer to the question
how many times must the cannon balls fly
before they're forever banned?
You were going to keep them flying
until you took out the VC
who wheeled his mortar tube out of My Tho
and mortared Dong Tam every night
and as long as the grunts on the ground
needed you to fly air support to keep them alive

We had seen the cities where bombs had to fall
and you had helped create
the ruins of the buildings not so tall
You were the young man
with so many reasons why
and there because of fortune
sat you and I
in the middle of a war zone
strumming our guitars
and singing songs of peace

Ultimately it was the dust blowin’ in the wind
whipped up by the rotor blades of your Cobra
that blinded you
and caused you to crash

You weren’t up very high
and the crash would have been survivable
had the rotor blade not come through the windshield

That night I knew the answer to another question.
How many deaths will it take ‘til she knows
that too many people have died?
Like the parents, wives and children
who receive the folded flag
from their soldier’s coffin,
I knew the answer was only one.

For weeks after your death
the words haunted my soul,
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

I searched for the answers
blowin’ in the wind
but all I really knew was that
the Fixin’ to Die Rag
no longer made me laugh
and that for me and those who loved you,
The Times They Were A Changin’

emily strange
donut dollie
© 8/22/03 

You were my first chopper pilot friend in Nam.  Donut Dollies were naturally drawn to chopper pilots because you were our transportation to and from firebases every day and our defenders from mortar attacks at night – unofficially our knights in OD armor.  I don’t exactly remember when we first met.  What I do remember is that we both played guitars and sang folk songs which allowed us to transcended the unforgiving realities of war in which we lived and be transported to the fantasy of peace for which we dreamed.

Sadly, you were my first friend in Nam who was killed.  The day you died I made this entry in my journal.  “My little blonde haired friend, Stacy, was killed today.  His chopper crashed.  I will really miss playing guitars with him.”  Such a brief entry for such a treasured friend.

Yours was the first name I found on the Wall.  I first went to DC in 1984 and a Donut Dollie I met found your name for me just before I was leaving.  That was such a difficult trip.  I went alone and truly believed that I did not belong.  I was a woman, after all, and a civilian. 

The only information I had to help find your name was “Stacy” and the date of your death from my journal.  It was only when Linda gave me the information of your panel and line that I discovered that your full name was Michael Leigh Stacy.  In Nam, so many were known by their last names or nicknames.  For all those years, I had thought that your first name was Stacy.

I don’t know why it has taken me so long to write.  Every year since ’84 I have come to DC for Veterans' Day and touched your name on the Wall.  I have always left a writing at your panel, but the writing has never been about our friendship.  Maybe it is only now that I have let out so much of the pain in my writings that I finally have the courage to face the friendship I lost the day you died.

Be at peace my friend,

emily strange

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