By Julie Titone
Six years of sharing Grady Myers's Vietnam War story has changed my reaction to Veterans Day. Maybe "intensified" would be a better verb. I've always felt gratitude on this holiday for folks who devoted part of their life to military service -- my dad, brother, son and friends among them. But ours was not a "military family," and my patriotism has not been of the flag-on-the-porch kind. It has been something I felt in my bones, especially when putting the First Amendment to practice as a journalist.
But co-authoring Boocoo Dinky Dow: My short, crazy Vietnam War, publishing it after Grady's death, and doing my best to get it in readers' hands has affected me.
I have met many more combat veterans. I've been moved and enlightened by the stories they shared with me in return. I've met their family members, and talked with folks who have deep and often conflicted feelings about both the Vietnam War and our military in general. In bookstores, museums and living rooms, people have come up to chat and opened their hearts.
Here are two questions on my mind this Veterans Day. I'd appreciate your thoughts on them.
As one Marine Khe Sanh survivor told me, "No one hates war more than a soldier." So shouldn't we have a Peacemakers Day to honor those whose work on making or keeping peace wasn't (or perhaps was) in uniform?
Despite its humor and easy-to-read storytelling, "Boocoo Dinky Dow" is ultimately the story of a young, peaceful man forced to kill for a cause he didn't understand. Beyond telling stories like this, how do we do a better job teaching younger generations about the cost of war?
Julie Titone is co-author of the Grady Myers memoir "Boocoo Dinky Dow: My short, crazy Vietnam War." Grady was an M-60 machine gunner in The U.S. Army's Company C’s 2nd Platoon, 1st Battalion, 8th Regiment, 4th Infantry Division in late 1968 and early 1969. His Charlie Company comrades knew him as Hoss. Thoughts, comments? Send Julie an email.