My Brothers

For the past couple of days, I’ve been working on articles for the New York Times and Vietnam magazine. I’ve dredged up memories of my time in Vietnam, and, in the process, recalled the many men I served with in Vietnam.

I call them men. The soldiers and Marines were so young that, in my memory, they seem more like children. Yet they died on the battlefield. Does their death in combat qualify them as full-fledged men?

My kinship for veterans seems to grow stronger each year. Most vets I meet are so different from me that we have trouble finding things to talk about.

I’m a retired spy, a writer with a PhD. I have been comfortable speaking seven languages other than English. I have a degree in music and play Bach on the piano.

The vets I meet at the American Legion and veteran events are every-day guys, many of them blue-collar, down-to-earth, unassuming. They don’t have much money and don’t need much for the lives they lead.

We couldn’t be more dissimilar. And yet the bond I feel for them and from them is deeper and stronger than our differences. They know what it is to serve selflessly. These men have a quiet nobility that outshines any other qualities they may have.

These men are my brothers, and I will always honor them.

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