The following letter was written to my grandmother, and is dated June 23, 1967
Dear Mrs. Fletcher,
A few lines to let you know I still exist in the world. But, believe me, I am in a different world. Mrs. Fletcher, I didn’t know the Lord could change your life in 10 minutes. But he can. If you ever held somebody that was dying you would understand.
I don’t guess anybody really knows what war is until they’re right in the middle of it. Mrs Fletcher, since I’ve been here, I’ve seen about 13 or 14 marines die and many more wounded. When we get into a fire fight with the enemy, I look around and see dead people not two feet from me and thank God I am still alive. And I say,” he was alive only five minutes ago.” The Lord can take your life so fast. If I ever get back to the states you will never catch me out of Sunday School and church.
I’m just thankful that God has spared my life this long. I’ve had nothing cold since I got here, all the water is hot. Not a bath in three weeks. People don’t know what you go through in war. Well, so much for that.
Oh, yes. Every time you take a drink of cold water, think of me. Because, when we’re on patrol the only way we get water is to find a creek or river. Sometimes, we do without water for a day and a half. It’s about 130 degrees. You are really hurting for water. We’re out on operations and patrol 28 days out of the month. Well, guess I’d better go. By the way, how is your family doing? Hope ok. Well write soon,
Roger Dale “Butch” Cecil was killed July 14th, 1967.
In July of 1994 I went to see the Vietnam Memorial. I was searching for a name of a friend, long ago killed, among the 58,243 names on the wall. When I found his name, Roger Dale Cecil, the tears that had been welling up began to spill over and all I could do was just let them. People all around me were quietly leaving little flags or flowers and there was a hush in the air that took your breath away.
Our family got to know Roger Dale “Butch” Cecil when he became my cousin’s boyfriend. But by the time they had broken up Butch had been adopted into our family by all of us. Butch had been an outstanding football player in his high school years, and was a bright, outgoing and attractive young man with so much potential.
Everyone loved Butch and the turn out at the large white church in Alma, Arkansas for his funeral was a testimony to it. There was a twenty-one gun salute and many prayers and tears. And throughout the years we have remembered Butch for the sacrifice he made and we have suffered the loss of his presence.
He served when called, he didn’t try to run, and his name is on the Wall. So, now I will go have a drink of cold water and I will remember Butch Cecil, who served and died and his name is on the wall.
In another letter Butch said that he and his buddies fought for each other. It’s still that way today. They fight for us.
“Always think of it: never speak of it.” That was the stoic French injunction during the time when the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine had been lost. This resolution might serve us well at the present time, when we are in midconflict with a hideous foe, and when it is too soon to be thinking of memorials to a war not yet won. This Memorial Day, one might think particularly of those of our fallen who also guarded polling-places, opened schools and clinics, and excavated mass graves. They represent the highest form of the citizen, and every man and woman among them was a volunteer. This plain statement requires no further rhetoric.
Phil Carter at Intel Dump expresses my feelings about Memorial Day with this line…..
The best way for us to honor the dead, while still engaged in war, is to continue the fight.
Hat tip: Instapundit
There is much to remember.
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