I was chatting with a 1-5 Army wife recently. I said I remember my dad leaving for war, twice. I remember the separation, the nightly prayers, the impatient wait for letters and the joy when one would arrive.

But I didn’t remember any homecomings.

The wife said that it’s the painful memories that seem to stick with us.

I thought about it. No, that can’t be right. I would remember a homecoming.

So I called my dad.

Hey, Dad, was there a homecoming celebration when you returned?

Cheryl, Vietnam was unpopular.

I know, I know, Dad. I know the community wasn’t supportive. I mean on the military base. Was there a band? And “welcome home daddy” signs? Cheering? Flags waving?

No, Cheryl.

No bands. Nothing. Nothing.

Not even at the base?


What did you do?

I’d have to think about it. The second tour I probably flew into Fort Lewis. Mom was waiting. I went home.

And I went back to duty.