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Poetry by Veterans:
"Where Were You?"

When I was a young man

I was sent to a far off country

To fight in a war I still don't understand.

But I was proud to go to serve for my country

In a place they call South Vietnam.

When I got home,

I didn't know about all the demonstrations

They were having at all the airports, towns, and schools.

If you don't mind,

I'd like to ask you a simple question.

When I came home from the war,

Where were you?

Were you waiting at one of the airport terminals

With a big old sign that criticized me?

Or were you somewhere else

Maybe burning up your draft card,

Or hollering "Baby Killer" as I walked down the street?

Now I'll live the rest of my life with all these memories,

But I don't hate you for what you put me through.

Would it make you mad if I ask you a simple question?

When I got home from the war,

Where were you?

Now when I die they'll put me in some old lonely graveyard.

They'll wrap my casket in the red, white, and blue.

They'll fire a few shots over this old body.

Submitted by Christal Presley, Ph.D in honor of her father who wrote this song when he returned from Vietnam. Christal is the Founder of www.unitedchildrenofveterans.com

Part The Sleeping Dreams

Oh can you hear the battle cries of all of those before us? The one's today and yesterday,
And the one's who stand before us?
For yester year was what we hear of how they bravely fought it! For those today who still
do say, those moments are still within us.
A time ago, for us who know the strife and guilt we now have harbored.
The place and time, for those behind, the one's we lost amongst it.
For all we cared, and that we shared, no one could ever felt it.
Tis more than word, or feelings stirred, or thoughts that swirl around it.
Tis, day and night the fears we fight, the sorrow that compels it.
A heart felt flash, a maddening dash, the thoughts that surround it.
Well here I stand, my brothers at hand cause they too, have lived it.
With hope one day, it will all go away,
Oh part the sleeping dreams.

B. Austin, Air Force

The Monster Within

Let me see, so where do I begin to tell you of a monster within?
The monster you see that's deep inside that from me can sometimes hide.
This monster I know came from another side;
It rears its head and can make me cry. It can make me angry, quiet or far away.
It takes me back to a place in time, to faces and names lock away in my mind.
Others they see it, when it arises...they tell me they know it it's in my eyes.
They may say they know and understand,
But how do you tell them of the monster from another land?

Others like me who have stepped down inside where the monster is, his piece of land.
The part a of land he will always own.
It the part of you he stole all for his own.
He owns you now, your never be free, it's the cost you pay for what has to be.

Some of the others who have had to dance can go the distance, they make a last stance.
Some of the others are not so sure.
The anguish they have there is no cure.
The twist and turns and ups and downs, the what if's, and how comes of what once was.
The wonderings of what should have been, no answers are given, this monster doesn't forgive.

Today's and tomorrow's, and faraway times!
Needle thin memories, ever so traces!,
Sights and sounds of other places,
The monster is there it's what he traces.
This venom he uses to keep control, the pain he uses to toil your soul.
He enters your head and steals your mind, will twist your thoughts and make you blind.
He has no heart, he's not kind.
He can make you wish and beg to die, he doesn't care it's not his life.
So now you know the thing inside, the monster with me that has not died.

B. Austin, Air Force
NEW: Frank reads his poem for veterans called "My Wounds Are Not For You To See."

Frank Ochberg reads his newest poem. It is based on his experience with combat veterans. Many veterans live with traumatic stress symptoms after combat and military service.

length: 4:26
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flag image by Salvatore Vuono
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Page created on 15 June 2005
Last updated by on 14 January 2014