Now is the time at the Castle… when we dance

Reprising a post from 2010, in the auld blogspace.

Thirty-five [Forty-six] years ago today, I was an about-to-graduate high school senior. State wrestling champ, All-state football player, with a scholarship offer from the University of Missouri. Ready to move on to the next phase.  Things were running smoothly.

I walked down the stairs to where my bedroom was, turned left, and the Auld Soldier was sitting on the couch, watching TV.  He was four months away from retiring after 27 years, two wars, a Silver Star, BSM w/v, and seven Purple Hearts.

He never noticed me.

He was watching the news.

He was watching the fall of Saigon, streaming into the family room.

I just went to the couch, sat next to him, and took his hand and we watched. I’ve only one other time seen that look on his face. The morning Mom died.  The ghosts in the room watched with us.

For many of our readers, the Vietnam War is an item from the history books. For others, like me, it’s a life event experienced at one degree of separation, others, at a greater remove.

And for a not insignificant number of us – zero degrees of separation. Callow youth became grizzled vets well before their 21st birthday.

It is that group I honor today. The ones among us who went there and have that t-shirt and polished the car with it many many times.

You did your best with what you had. The failure lies rather farther up the chain.

Perhaps as important – many of you made it your passion to insure that the newest group of grizzled vets didn’t come home from their war to the same reception you got returning from yours. And as many if not more of you have spent many long hours, days, months, years and dollars taking care of your brothers and sisters who didn’t come all the way home. Taking care of those the nation would rather have forgotten.

I’ve read Frances FitzGerald’s paean to the Viet Cong, Fire in the Lake. I still have the Auld Soldier’s copy. During the Fall of Saigon, she was interviewed for the Union College student newspaper [now-dead link removed].
FitzGerald won the Pulitzer Prize for her passionate embrace of the oppressed peasants simply striving for a better life free of imperialist hegemony, who apparently wanted nothing more than to establish a anarcho-syndicalist commune and take it upon themselves to take turns acting as a sort of executive officer for the week. She confidently predicted that the new, enlightened rulers of Vietnam would soon have free, multi-party elections.

How’d that work out for you, Ms. FitzGerald?  [In the fullness of time, the Vietnamese have clearly advanced their situation, after the predictable aftermath of a communist overthrow, and more rapidly and thoroughly I expect than most of us anticipated.  Good on them]

I’m not here to debate the ups and downs and rights and wrongs.

I’m here to honor those among who went and came back.

And, those who didn’t. The ghosts on our shoulders. I have a few ghosts from that era too. This one’s for you, too, Dad.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam of the fallen of Vietnam.  And those who have since gone down the road to meet their buddies at Fiddler’s Green.

Published by The Armorer

A grumpy old Cincinnatus who feeds goats, dogs, cats, ducks, peafowl, a horse, and sundry avians, especially in the winter. From time to time you will see guns. Until such time as the Progressives repeal the 2nd Amendment, everything you see is legal, Federal, State, Local, where I live. Your progressive paradise may have different rules. Don't project them onto me. Federalism still exists, even if it is but a shadow of what the Framers intended.

Join the Conversation


  1. Signed up in April of ’73. In all honesty, would have ended up a Marine, had they been at their office (both times I tried to see them) but the Navy was where I ended up. The last call up for the draft was the year before, and being 17 at that time, I was not eligible. It was not lost on me that if I would have been a year older, the last number called out of the 12 they called, was mine (5). This made an impression, thus the events of the following April.
    And though fully expecting to be floating on a bird farm in the South China Sea, in ’74-’75, I was one of 3 in my Avionics school class of 43, to receive orders to Keflavik Iceland.
    I hope those who ended up “In Country”, were able to find peace, if peace needed to be found.
    I hope those who loved, or were loved, by vets who saw combat, have gained some understanding as to what their loved one(s) may have been (and may still be) going through. And are able to provide comfort.
    I hope those who reside now, at Fiddler’s Green (and at Heaven’s Gates, for the Marines) have been granted the peace they deserve.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply to Quartermaster Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.