The Memorial Day forecast called for rain all day in Washington, DC. That made me think of the song I wrote in Vietnam in 1967 when I was a rifle platoon leader with the First Cavalry Division, “When’s the sun gonna shine on Camp Evans? (When’s the end of the mist comin’ on?).” The sky was overcast, but it didn’t rain on our parade, nor the one down Constitution Avenue with all the soldiers and bands.
The ceremony at the Vietnam War Memorial wall stayed dry, too. And many people placed wreaths, flowers, letters, and cards by the wall to honor fallen loved ones and the 58,000 U.S. soldiers killed in that war.
I also read passages from my Vietnam War satire, Cologne No. 10 For Men: about Sin City, which was next to Camp Radcliff, the 1st Cavalry Division base at Ankhe (a facility patrolled by our MPs), H&I (harassment and interdiction) artillery fire that we would unleash every night at no one in particular, a sad reading about a chaplain who was consumed by “battle fatigue” (PTSD) when a close friend was killed, and one about counting bodies in Vietnam, which we needed to do to be able to calculate our kill ratios–their dead over ours–the way we kept score–even though the method invited certain games. The readings and my songs correlate to some extent, because both spring from my experiences, although the book is fiction, not a memoir.