Sunday, February 20, 2011

Today Is the Day

Shadow Shot Sunday
February 20. 2011

Shadow Shot Sunday was created by Tracy who pens the Hey Harriet blog. Go take a look at other Shadow Shots and to find out the guidelines for participation.
Today is an important day In my life for a couple of reasons, neither of them are related. What I am related to is the fact that today is the Birthday of my middle daughter. I sure hope she has a great day today and everyday. I’m pretty sure she’s 35 today. I’ll call her when the day is further along to tell her so. 
Often times, she gets cheated out of a celebration, or at least a celebration I attend. Today is also one of those dreaded anniversary dates. It was 42 years ago today that I got home from the American war in Vietnam. I was 20 years old and released from active military service. I couldn’t drink in a bar, I couldn’t vote legally in my home state of Illinois and my mother had to go with me to the Department of Motor Vehicles to sign for me to get a drivers license. All this, and I was a seasoned combat Veteran.
Yours truly, Republic of Vietnam, 1969

Today’s Shadow Shot was taken in 1969 in what was then called The Republic of Vietnam. I served in the 25th Infantry Division. That Division is called Tropic Lightning as they were dispatched into the tropical islands across Asia during World War II. The unit I actually served with is the Triple Deuce. The 2nd Battalion, of the 22nd Infantry Regiment. 
25th Division Tropic Lighning patch

Crest of the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment
The Triple Deuce

I like the photo of me as a young man. For one, I was smiling. It’s good to look back and see yourself smiling. It must have been a good day that day. If memory serves me, there were not too many ‘Good” days in my life in 1969 for obvious reasons. 
When I look at it today, I see that the shadows are draped across my portrait. Seems camera angle and lighting weren’t of any concern. Snap the picture with the old Kodak Brownie. I’m fortunate to have saved a few relics of the past from Vietnam service days. This one had shadows. I know I never would have thought I’d be using this photo to display an artistic photo technique.
I can go into so much nostalgia and explanation of war and political hacking here, but suffice it to say today is the day. Over the years I have dealt with this day in many ways. Mostly, I was away from home and family because I didn’t want to live it with anyone but my memories. 

I am blessed that The Creator has granted me some peace from it all and that I understand better why it all happened and why I survived and others weren't so fortunate.
This year, I am away because it’s a long cold Winter in the Northland and I needed to get down to a place where I can warm up a bit while the season rages on. I guess no matter what the reason, my daughter gets ripped off from having a birthday party with me in attendance one more time. I hope she forgives me and knows how much I love her.

Still alive and kickin',

Happy Birthday Alyssa. I love you very much and no matter where I am, I will always love you.

For now, and I know a little about which I speak, I’ll take Peace


CanadianGardenJoy said...

Dear Joe
I understand more than most would, because of my husband's military service and his experience in the first Gulf War when he was attached to the Combat Engineers .. neither one of us wants to remember that time but it is always in the back of your mind isn't it ?
My husband was older and more experienced than you as a young man .. he wasn't drafted, he chose his career .. but no matter the experience, nothing prepares you for what you see and witness in a warn zone .. nothing prepares you as the spouse of a vet. But as you have said .. we have survived it and we are alive and kicking .. and there will always be a thread connecting all war vets no matter what country.
Thank you for sharing and I wish your daughter the best on her birthday .. she understands your dilemma and loves you all the more for it : )

Mel said...

Happy Birthday, Alyssa.
And Happy Sunday to you, sir.

It's a day of rest.
And I hope you do.
Rest in knowing the arrangements the Creator has made in your life were not without purpose--and I love how you use your experiences to give to others.....and to be all that you ARE.

It's a freezing rain kinda day--New Mexico warmth and sunshine is a good thing.
Centering on what's good and true is a good thing.
Everyone wins.

Including all of us.

((((((((((( Spadoman )))))))))))

Celebrate all that you are, sir.
That's the best gift any of us can give to the other.

It's Alyssa's birthday--and your re-birthday......every day.

<-- going to get the balloons and streamers! :-)

Dianne said...

what a handsome young man in that creased and wonderful photo
Happy Coming Home Day
I'm glad you made it back
A boy I had a huge crush on didn't come back from Nam, I think of him all the time

Happy Birthday to Alyssa

Your comment on my tree post was so beautiful, thank you for that


Jeannie said...

So there are shadows not just in the photo then. It's too bad for your daughter that she was born on an auspicious day for you. From your side though, you have a positive reminder of how life continues on.

The American war experience is hard for me to relate to. Here, we are overwhelmed with your news, movies and culture. While otherwise, we are culturally similar, we have little military activity. In fact, I know very very few who have served since WWII. That said, the experience leaves a huge impression on them and it is somewhat understandable why it is such a huge part of your national identity.

Anonymous said...

A very moving post. I am sure Alyssa understands your conflicting emotions. She doesn't need your physical presence on the day to know that you love her. And from me, a heartfelt echo of your wish for peace!

Unknown said...

Well, you brought tears to my eyes with your beautiful way with words.

Happy Happy birthday to your sweet daughter and I am pretty sure she knows that you love her very much.

your view of the rising moon would heal many wounds.

Chubskulit Rose said...

Happy birthday and thank you for your services. My husband just retired from the Navy last year. My father in law was also in WW2- army division.

Beautifully captured!

The shadow Shines Through

EG CameraGirl said...

I'm sure your daughter knows how much her daddy loves her!

Vietnam has left many scars! I'm glad you survived the horrors!

Dimple said...

What a shock it must have been, coming home after your rite of passage, to find yourself still considered a boy. I am thankful for all who went and returned, as you did, and also for those who went but didn't return. I am sorry you were not respected as you deserved for the sacrifices you made.
Thank you.

A Wild Thing said...

Those were sad times for our generation, it was surreal, as every day you wondered which of your friends would be drafted and which would not come home...watching the horrors on tv in the evening...I cannot think of Vietnam without a tear and an ache in my heart...and yet we war on, generation after generation.

Thanks vet for all you did for us, we love you for it...enjoy some of that sunshine for this ol' Iowa gal...thunderstorms this morning, that was weird!

Have a great time till next time!


Hey Harriet said...

I'm sure that your daughter understands and realises how much you love her regardless of whether you're able to attend her celebrations. I hope Alyssa had a wonderful birthday! And I wish you peace. Gosh with all that you went through, you are so deserving of peace.

Spadoman said...

Thank you all so very much for your kind words and compassion. It has been a rough road at times, but make no mistake, I realize that I am alive on this Mother Earth for some reason, and I appreciate it. Years ago, I wouldn't be able to tell this story. I'd be hole up in the Northwoods, hiding behind a beard and a cloud of smoke. Healing is real and it can happen. I'm blessed for that healing, and I'm blessed with the family and friends I have.
I talked with Alyssa yesterday evening and sang Happy Birthday to her. We laughed and she told me she had a great birthday.

Thanks again, Peace.

mig said...

I think congratulations for surviving are in order 'Man. And respect for becoming the lovely person you are today.

rebecca said...

today is today....
and i count myself honored to have shared the table of peace and friendship with you....
and an ever widening circle of friends.

today was a blessing i am grateful for.

susanna said...

Happy belated birthday to your daughter! How...neat, interesting, wonderful, is that years after the day you returned home from war (a great day for everyone who loved and missed you), you would be blessed with a beautiful daughter. If ever there was a way to light up a day that was tied to a terrible memory, the arrival of a new life would be it.

susanna said...

PS: It's great to see pics of you then and now!

Paula Scott Molokai Girl Studio said...

Somehow or other, I fell behind! Well, I guess I'll always be behind...but there are times when I don't' even know that I'm behind!
Interesting post as it never occurred to me that the anniversary of returning home from a war would be something to recognize. But, it makes sense now that you have shared it with us. I am grateful that you have as it helps to get a better glimpse of what our vets go through in silence.
42 years later, it is still as fresh and traumatic. But, it is something to celebrate in spite of it all-the fact that you made it home alive, even if it does mean that you returned very much so changed.
I thank you for serving, no matter if the war is/was senseless. I thank you for having the courage each day to put one foot in front of the other.