Here are two related short stories that might further help explain…Why Now?
Tampa Florida, February, 2011, Tampa International Airport – Like all airport terminal travelers, hundreds of us were waiting to board our ordinary flights to ordinary homes or ordinary places with our ordinary day’s work. The airport public address voice broke our dead-head, ho-hum thinking, with something like this:
“Ladies and Gentlemen, just landed and proceeding to terminal B, Gate 7, is a plane load of returning Veterans, straight from a tour of duty in Iraq.”
Everyone’s boring terminal passenger routine was stopped in their boring wait. American patriotism immediately filled the air, holding all of us in an awkward group suspended anticipation. We all stood silenced, not really knowing what would happen…what would be next.
None of us were in control of our passenger-wait-a-thon. Within very few minutes, the door dividing the terminal from the walkway to the plane at terminal B, Gate 7 opened, as we all silently stood, in total awe and looked down into the dark tunnel, expecting we knew not what. From the darkened tunnel, in full field uniforms, stepped a returning Iraq Veteran into the open daylight of the terminal. Loud enthusiastic applause immediately started…then another American soldier, and another, and a whole line of what must have been near 120 returning veterans stepped their way into our midst…to thunderous spontaneous terminal applause. The terminal structure vibrated with applause and screams of ‘thank you’, ‘thank you for your service’… ‘welcome home’, a Semper Fi yelled out here and there, as the veterans humbly passed us by on the way to meet their families in a more private area. Even when the returning veterans had finally, completely passed, the applause continued, terminal waiting passengers seemingly rather applauding ourselves as Americans, I guess, having been lucky enough to be there, as a part of that return-home experience, that day, that moment, that passing moment of history, with those who have bravely volunteered and served.
Los Angeles, California, early November, 1968 – immediately back from Vietnam, and on the way to LAX for a flight to Chicago, IL, then a trip south to ‘Wilson Street’ and home:
Marine Corps Officer – “Sarge, where are you going next?”
Sergeant Fox – “Home, to Illinois, I start back to college in 10 days.”
Marine Corps Officer – “Are you flying from LAX to Chicago O’Hare?”
Sergeant Fox – “Yes Sir, I live downstate about 150 miles, in a small town called Monticello.”
Marine Corp Officer – “Sarge…are you going like that, in full uniform, just back from Vietnam?”
Sergeant Fox – “Yes Sir, I thought I was…Why?”
Marine Corps Officer – “Don’t! You don’t understand…things have changed! People will not like you! Some will spit on you and your uniform! Being a returning Vietnam Veteran is very unpopular! Do yourself a favor…do not return home this way…change into civvies! Good Luck at college!”
I remember being stunned, totally confused, I had thought my war was over, while also knowing the Marines Corps Officer would not lie to me, or mislead me or exaggerate. I went to a private place still on the base, took my one civilian set of pants and a shirt, with my Marine Corps jungle boots, and took my entire life belongings that were in my duffel bag, and dumped it all in a trash dumpster, then proceeded to LAX for a flight home. That experience was my first lesson of how Vietnam Veterans would be looked upon and treated. Within 10 days I was on a college campus and nothing about the attitude for Vietnam Veterans changed for almost 40 years. Recently, things have changed a little bit, except that America has learned not to speak of the Vietnam War. Even Veterans have learned not to speak of their service in Vietnam, or in the era at large. What a shame!
Frankly it is almost too late to honor the Vietnam Veteran to any worthy extent. That damage is done! Now, 50 years since Tet, we want to make another, better effort. Through our Vietnam Veterans Youth Scholarship Program we will bring recognition to the war, the veterans and their stories while assisting their families, now mostly grandchildren or distant cousins, nephews or nieces.
We are not asking for donations. In this program we will offer on-line e-book manuscripts and printed book copies offered by Vietnam Veteran USMC Sergeant Fox. You name your price that you would contribute per manuscript, or for the entire set of Fox’s contemporary works. First in the series is the classic work of Fox, The Domestic Vietnam. Following in this website of program highlights, you will see a description of all of the manuscripts available. The first four manuscripts are in the Domestic series. Fifth in the set is Fox’s classic coaching for youth baseball and softball…The Next Level…the best book for coaches, parents, players and league officials ever available. Fox explains 50 years of playing and coaching, dozens and dozens of theories, strategies for winning, and training instructions. Again, name your own price as a contribution to our Scholarship Program. Other books will be added, including the Domestic Columbia scheduled for release June 2018.