jlink
Wednesday, August 21, 2019

This story is an ongoing email correspondence beginning with my cousin Philip’s comments to me about a Vietnam veteran whom I knew many years ago.

Cousin David,

After I read what you wrote here about that vet, I can see you were a true friend to that soldier, giving him something to remember and think of from home. I’m sure it helped him get through some of what he encountered during that war in Vietnam.

When I was in college one of my professors was a Vietnam veteran. He taught a course about that war and we were lucky enough to have many speakers and a few vets took the course with us. We had an amazing, touching and unforgettable experience when some of us decided to rent a 15 passenger van and head down to Washington DC with ten of the vets to escort them to the Wall for their first time. It was haunting and emotional. Thank you for bringing back those memories to me, and thank you also for continuing to send me your stories. They are wonderful.

As for me, yes I am well now and back working at my job and loving it. Thanks for checking in on Mom too.

Your cousin, Philip

This is the answer that I wrote to Philip.

We are so glad that everything is okay with you and that our prayers were answered. I just want to mention a feeling which is deeply embedded in me since I was a kid. It is an integral part of my nature. It poses a question, hypothetically speaking: “Did my asking a friend to get me a container of coffee have anything to do with causing him to slip on the winter’s ice outside, fracturing his wrist?” No! Of course not! Nevertheless, a person might be thinking, “Hadn’t I asked him to get me that coffee, would he still have gotten that fractured wrist?” Hmm!? I have to digress here…to a time when we entered the war in Vietnam. { Please bear with me now } I was very young and I was working in my pa’s auto body shop when this occurred. A young man, a customer of ours, who I met at the shop when he brought his car in for repair, happened to strike up a conversation with me which was about a problem that he was having with his family, and I put my two cents in trying to help him, which I feel, in fact, that I did.

To shorten this up a bit more...After his car was repaired and he left…he then came back to the shop about a week later to see me. He said that he wanted to say “goodbye” to me, to tell me that he was drafted and leaving for Vietnam. I remember how deeply touched I was by his coming back to the shop to tell me this. I shook his hand and hugged him and said that I would be praying for him and for his safe return. As he was leaving the shop he said that he would write to me, and that was when I asked him not to write to me. It was a time of war and as my hypothetical question brings out, I didn’t want him to be going out of his way or change any of his footsteps during this dangerous time of war. I felt that I didn’t want him to be tempting fate and maybe jeopardizing his future just to send me a letter. I could tell that he understood exactly how I felt about this. I said I knew in my heart that God would keep him safe as I shook his hand and asked him to please come and see me when his tour was over. He then told me that he and his family were getting along fine now, which was so good to hear.

I remember thinking about him and praying for him, as I did for you, Philip, constantly.

When the war ended was when I wished that he would send me a letter. I never received a letter, but one day the shop door opened, and there in the open doorway stood a soldier in full dress uniform, smiling as he looked at me. It was him. I dropped my tools and ran over to him to shake his hand and hug him hard. I can’t recall exactly what I said to him at that moment, but I do remember saying, “Let’s drink to this happy time at the bar across the street,” which we did.

Everyone at the bar respectfully thought that he was a close relative of mine and, you know, in my mind he sure was. It was one of the dearest and nicest afternoons I ever spent. I’m sure of this now, as I reminisce about that time.

My prayers were answered then for him, and also now for you, Philip.

I love you Phil!

My best regards to all.

Your cousin, David

By David Weinstein