Monday, June 18 , 2018, 9:56 pm | Fair 62º


Ken Williams: Memorial Day — Hero on Front Lines to Homeless on Homefront

A veteran no more.
Too many claimed
Stolen honor insured.
Sits abandoned
cold concrete his home.

War memories
best shared alone.
Indifferent citizens
battles fought by others.

Came home
separated from others,
to become
an animal on display.

A land, a war
Forsaken by god.
Veterans abandoned to fate:
to die alone,
PTSD-infused nightmares
waiting for Agent Orange’s fate.

In truth,
misty-white came Death’s agent,
Orange another lie.
Spit from warbirds, wingtip to wingtip
Death’s foggy breath trailing
scarlet rays prism, setting sun.

Disability approved for designer diseases
except for the ones that kill.
The VA’s bureaucratic demands
overlooking cemeteries of accusers.

Wrapped in red, white, blue
came black body bags.
home sent shinny coffins,
tears welcoming.
Color red flowed our blood
cancer inherited to our blood.

“We had to destroy the village,”
the Captain informed,
“In order to save it.”

We had to destroy the Army
the Corps
they told us
In order to save us.
Kill the Marine
in order to save him.

Lies built upon sands of lies
in time becoming sand dunes of lies,
Fodder for chickenhawks
demeaning slogans for warhawks.

Came home to be dishonored
a citizenry weary of war,
shamed by those who fought.
Forgotten by the VA
simply a number.
Dishonored by an immoral war
War ever moral?
tore at veterans’ souls.

In the land forsaken by God
till the name Vietnam ‘came a curse.
Chickenhawks shamelessly use
yet they themselves forsake the angry bullets.
Veterans as cannon fodder
as long as they are the “Other.”

The next Great adventure
purchased by amnesia.
C.O.D. down the time.
Children blinded by John Wayne
come home to pay dues
past due.

Con Thien,
“Hill of Angels,” the French called it.
Death wholesale
Marines inherited.

Now …
angels with tin cups
suffer the hell of abandonment,
wound that hurts the most.
Honor the veteran?
then honor their memories
And by all means,
Let chickenhawks come home to roost.

So the veteran sits
beggar’s cup extended.
Weary citizens walk by
not knowing the truth.
They despise.

Ken Williams has been a social worker for the homeless for the past 30 years, and is the author of China White, Shattered Dreams: A Story of the Streets and his first nonfiction book, There Must Be Honor. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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