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"Who Replaced You?"

I’ve been writing poems ever since I returned from VN. Why? Beats me. They just show up in my head and I write. Some were written after I had a drink or two and I am sure I will never with the Nobel prize for literature and I almost never share them, I still write though rarely drink now. I thought I’d drop one off here. I suppose my poems are a way for me to express many things I’ve thought and felt about being in the U.S. Marine Corps and having spent ~13 months in VN; also, some poems described my experiences when I returned. Semper Fi!

Who Replaced You?

Who replaced you?
Yes, you.
You who didn’t want to serve,
said you were unfit, unhealthy,
Could not, in good conscience,
Put on a uniform and fight.
You believed in your right
To not go to war.
Who replaced you?
They said “Yes” and
Went and served.
Some died taking your place.
Some of you said they got what they deserved.
Others came home, were jeered,
Smeared and spit in their face.
Who replaced you?
What do you do now?
Are you living in these United States?
And those who went upheld their
Vow
To support the Constitution?
They fought and you did not.
They died and have you forgotten
That they took your place?
Do not talk to me.
You are an empty space
Which I have filled
With the life and face
Of he who replaced
You.

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Comments

John Durant 54-57, E-2-12 - April 10, 2020

I have long ago stopped calling it the “Vietnam War”. Now I refer to it as the “JFK-LBJ War”. JFK refused to take Eisenhower’s advice and LBJ was determinedn to WIN the war that JFK couldn’t. I also put blame the advice that JFK got from Cardinal Cushing Archbishop of Boston and Cardinal Spelling Catholic Archbishop for the US Armed Forces.

Mike R - April 10, 2020

A well written poem. I was too young to go to Vietnam, but my brother went ( Green Beret ). My Dad was also there (Sgt. Maj. USMC Ret). I enlisted in The Corps in ’79 and did my time, though I did not see combat. I make it a point to ALWAYS welcome home Vets from every war. My heart hurts every time I hear of how Marines and Soldiers were treated coming home, my brother and dad were no exception. What you did, the sacrifice you made, can never be repaid. And no gratitude can be strong enough. God bless all of you and God bless The Marine Corps.

Sgt Robert L Sisson - April 10, 2020

In reply to SGT. Billy Richardson.
Sgt Richardson so are telling the truth. I was stationed at 29 Palms after Vietnam and we knew better than to go to LA. Thank God I was station out in the Desert. We had our own little community out there. My wife and I and a few of our married friends went to Disneyland and we could tell by the looks we received we were not welcome we even joked next time we would have to buy wigs first.

Sgt Robert L Sisson - April 10, 2020

In reply to James Frohriep 1935***.
I loved your POEM It was so true.

DANIEL ZAWIEJSKI (SKI) 7TH. MOTOR BATTLION (B CO.) CHU LAI VIETNAM 1966-1967 - April 10, 2020

YOU SHOULD WRITE A (POEM) TO THE (TRUMP) BAIT AND SWITCH PITCH SALES MAN, DO YOU THINK HE HAS TIME TO (TEXT BACK?) DOWN IN FLORDIA. MAYBE TO BUSY SPENDING OUR AMERICAN TAX PAYER’S DOLLAR’S AND NOT EVEN THINKING TWICE ABOUT IT AND HIS (ANSWER YOU ELECTED ME) ( THREE MILLION DOLLARS A WEEK END PLUS) ETC. YOU WON’T EVEN MAKE THAT MUCH IN YOUR LIFE TIME. GOING TO SAVE TAX PAYER’S MONEY? (STRAIGHT QUESTION (WOULD YOU TAKE A BULLET FOR HIM? AND WOULD YOU SALUTE HIM?) IF NOT THEY WOULD PUT YOU IN THE BRIG!) THOSE POOR MARINE’S IN WASHINGTON D.C. I KNOW WHAT THEY ARE GOING THREW BECAUSE I HAD A TASTE OF THAT WHEN I WAS IN THE MARINES. I WOULD TRANSFER OUT AS SOON AS I COULD! REMEMBER IT’S ALL ABOUT MONEY AND AT THE END OF THIS MONTH (APRIL) THE UNITED STATE’S WILL BE (BROKE AGAIN) (GOOD JOB WALL STREET WHO RUN’S OUR COUNTRY) WHAT DOE’S THAT TELL YOU! NORTH KOREA ROUND TWO WAR’S MAKE MONEY AND THE SO ARE WE (FIGHTING FOR GOD AND COUNTRY) OR THE (REPUBICAN GOP). REMEMBER KOREAN WAR, VIETNAM WAR, TO FIGHT COMMUNISM! THEN WHY ARE WE DEALING WITH COMMUNIST COUNTRIES ON TRADE? AND (TOOK ALL OF OUR JOB’S AWAY AND SHUT DOWN ALL OF OUR FACTORIE’S) OVER (52,000 DEAD VIET NAM) AND KOREA STILL COUNTING) AND (CHINA) BACKED (KOREAN WAR) WITH THOUSAND OF TROOPS AND WEAPON’S AND PUSHED US BACK TO THE 38TH LINE OF KOREA. SO WHAT’S GOING ON TODAY THIS MINUTE WHAT’S NEXT? (MORE BODY BAG’S GOING HOME) WE NEED LEADERSHIP IN WASHINGTON DC. NOT A BUNCH OF POLITICAL (CLOWN’S) WORRIED ABOUT THER JOBS, MAKING MONEY, AND AFFAIRED TO BE (AMERICAN’S) AND SPEAK UP FOR AMERICAN PEOPLE (BE AN AMERICAN) SO (AIM YOUR POEM’S TO WASHINGTON DC). AND NOT THE AMERICAN SOLIDER’S AND SAVE OUR COUNTRY! SEMPER FI! (SKI)

gary kenefick - April 10, 2020

The point I was making in this poem is the reaction of us Vets who came home and great disregard and blame that was heaped on us for this war. Many of the comments in this post are things we probably have felt. Whether we actually had saliva spit in our face or not, how we were treated was a clear declaration that many seemed to think we were disgraceful. Some of us may have eased back into the World, others did not. When I returned from VN we arrived at El Toro. Entering the terminal military families were there welcoming us back with cake, cookies, coffee and greetings. Upon leaving and driving through the gates, there were signs stating how negatively these people thought of us and this war. It was a shocking difference. A lot of vets were drafted. Some of us in the USMC enlisted and also served. It didn’t matter how you got there, once there we did our jobs, had our moments of terror and hope that we and our brothers would get the hell out of there. I have many poems that recognize our experiences through my eyes. With Sgt. Grit’s indulgence I’ll post another titled, “Then Tell Me What You Have To Say.” To be clear, I am not selling or promoting anything. I, too, am telling you what I think. “Spit” can be wet with saliva or hurled at us with words that accuse us of things others know nothing about. To me, we may hate the war but never hate the warrior. Semper Fi.

Sgt Robert L Sisson - April 10, 2020

In reply to Wayne Beverly USMC Sgt-Vietnam 1966/67.
I am afraid I have to agree with you. I have 2 friends that also Moved to Thailand for the same reason. Marty was a Marine I was in Vietnam with and Dave I went to High School with, Dave was a retired Green Beret spent 23 years in the Army but when he finally got out of the ARMY he saw what you did and moved to Thailand. I finally got the two of them to hook up over there before Dave finally died from Agent orange. We all had different experiences when we came back. As for myself I only felt excepted on base or around other Marines. I wanted to stay in the Corp for that reason but my wife wanted to come back to Pittsburgh and a job I had waiting in the Steel Mill. But I was like you I kept my mouth Shut about being in the Military. We were at a dinner party and some asshole heard I was in Vietnam and said “HOW MANY WOMEN AND CHILDREN DID YOU KILL OVER THERE ” I went after the guy and 2 guys broke it up. I left the party and to my surprise half the other couples did also. That was when I was surprised how many civilians really kept their mouths shut but were behind us.

Gerald F Merna, 1stLt USMC (Ret). - April 10, 2020

In reply to Wayne Beverly USMC Sgt-Vietnam 1966/67.
Sgt Beverly:
“Not one documented incident (of spitting)?
I beg to differ with you, greatly!
This is a true story I’ve kept in my files all these years that is very well “documented.” This verbatim excerpt is from a full-page editorial written in the U.S. News & World Report, Feb. 11, 1991 by the very well-known and respected David Gergen (who served in the White House for three or four Presidents):

“Twenty-three years ago, a soldier in Army uniform hobbled through Grand Central Station in New York, clutching a cane with one hand, his dad with the other. He had just returned from Vietnam, where he had been so badly wounded by bullets and mortar fragments that he had received last rites. As he slowly wended through the station, a well-dressed woman swept out of the crowd to greet him in the spirit of the time: with filthy shouts and a vile stream of spit.”

That incident left an imprint so deep on John Wickham that he, like many other officers of his generation, dedicated himself to restoring the reputation and esprit of the armed forces. Wickham rose through the ranks to win four stars and to serve as Army Chief of Staff before retiring.”

I worked for General Wickham for five years after his Army retirement when he became President of the Armed Forces Communications & Electronics Association (AFCEA). I regarded him then and now so highly and learned firsthand why and how he rose to such esteemed positions in his several careers. I can also proudly say he was among the top individuals I ever had the pleasure to work with and for in or out of the Marine Corps.

My point here is that veterans like General Wickham, and the rest of us who were on the receiving end of similar treatment, really must suck it up when it happens or else we only give credibility or substance to these cruel and stupid allegations leveled against us. I realize it is most difficult to restrain from responding verbally or physically to such ignorant individuals, especially if it comes from a male.

We can only hope that the individuals who resorted to such ignorant behavior to any of us are today repentant for their conduct and appreciate the sacrifices that veterans of all wars have made to allow them their reprehensible conduct.

Greetings to all Marines, Corpsmen and their family and friends.

Gerald F. Merna, Mustang Marine
MGySgt-1stLt,
1947-1968,
Korea l952-53 & Vietnam (1966-67)

D. Granger - April 10, 2020

In reply to Wayne Beverly USMC Sgt-Vietnam 1966/67.
Stay in Thailand, we have enough problems without you.

Vaughn Seruby - April 10, 2020

Couldn’t agree with this poem more. I see a Marine salute our draft dodging president and the draft dodger returns the salute. Strange how he could play squash and tennis in college and when he graduated had bone spurs. The Marine guards should not have to salute a coward.

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