Memorial Day Writers’ Project Open Mic near the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC, May 27, 2013
On Memorial Day, May 27, I honored American veterans by reading from Cologne No. 10 For Men and singing songs from my CD, Skytroopers – songs of war, peace, and love from Vietnam. The venue was the twentieth anniversary Memorial Day Writers’ Project (MDWP) (See http://www.memorialdaywritersproject.com) Open Mic from 11:00 A.M. to 5:30 P.M. in a tent near the Vietnam Memorial and Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C. . Vietnam Veterans Mike McDonell and Clyde Wray founded MDWP in 1993 as a creative venue for veterans and those who have been touched by war. The public is invited to perform prose, poetry and songs on each Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
I wrote the songs in Vietnam in 1967 and recorded them in 2007, with accompaniments and arrangements by Franklin Taggart (See Skytroopers CD – Lyrics above; also listen to portions of these songs on http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/richardmorris and a few complete songs on http://www.memorialdaywritersproject.com/PoetsPages/Morris.htm). I did four sets throughout the day. The songs are numbered.
6. Diggin’ A Hole – Everywhere we went, we dug holes, to fight in and sleep in. An award-winning song
The Rockpile reading – A siege of boulders hiding NVA soldiers.
4. Chanh Giao Cave – The Rockpile Operation of A Co. 2/5, a 13-day siege (23 Aug 67 through 3 Sep 67)
3. Bong Son Bridge – A catchy tune about the easy duty when guarding the Bong Son Bridge
14. Mirage – Soldiers always long for the girl back home. I wrote this one on a sand dune by the South China Sea, thinking of the bride I married three months before going to Vietnam.
The Ambush reading: Our obsession with counting bodies in Vietnam
13. Counting Bodies In The Nam – A satirical tribute to the practice in Vietnam of counting friendly and enemy soldiers killed in action and calculating kill ratios to measure success in battle (keep score), and the shenanigans that could have occurred in counting bodies more than once or counting dead bodies that were found.
11. Smoking Hamlet (Together We Can Empty The South China Sea) – [Inspired by a “Stars and Stripes” article about the Vietcong destruction of a Montagnard village in the Central Highlands]
8. When’s The Sun Gonna Shine On Camp Evans? Monsoon season at the northern HQ of the 1st Cav
The Chaplain reading – a sniper kills a platoon sergeant and the chaplain loses his ability to speak
7. The Chaplain – a fictional tale of a chaplain who had battle fatigue, to remember the soldiers who have returned from war with PTSD.
9. Charlie’s Gone From Khe Sahn – A slow wistful tune. Nineteen thousand NVA troops fled the 1st Cavalry Division at Khe Sanh in Operation Pegasus in March 31, 1968.
10. You Ain’t Alone – Feelings of loneliness
17. I Got A Lonesome Me – A silly song to a girl back home
18. Go To Sleep – Soldiers long for their children, too. I had none when I was in Vietnam, but I wrote this for the children I dreamed about having, if I survived. Now we sing it to our grandchildren.