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Nam Vets by Bob Scheyer


When the Lord was creating Vietnam veterans, he was into His 6th day of overtime when an angel appeared. "You're certainly doing a lot of fiddling around on this one."

And God said, "Have you seen the specs on this order? A Nam vet has to be able to run 5 miles through the bush with a full pack on, endure with barely any sleep for days, enter tunnels his higher ups wouldn't consider doing, and keep his weapons clean and operable. He has to be able to sit in his hole all night during an attack, hold his buddies as they die, walk point in unfamiliar territory known to be VC infested, and somehow keep his senses alert for danger. He has to be in top physical condition, existing on c-rats and very little rest. And he has to have 6 pairs of hands."

The angel shook his head slowly and said, "6 pair of hands .... no way."

"It's not the hands that are causing me problems ... it's the 3 pair of eyes a Nam vet has to have."

"That's on the standard model?" asked the angel.

The Lord nodded. "One pair that sees through elephant grass, another pair here in the side of his head for his buddies, another pair here in front that can look reassuringly at his bleeding, fellow soldier and say, 'You'll make it...' when he knows he won't."

"Lord, rest, and work on this tomorrow."

"I can't," said the Lord. "I already have a model that can carry a wounded soldier 1,000 yards during a firefight, calm the fears of the latest FNG, and feed a family of 4 on a grunt's paycheck."

The angel walked around the model and said, "Can it think?"

"You bet," said the Lord. "It can quote much of the UCMJ, recite all his general orders, and engage in a search and destroy mission in less time than it takes for his fellow Americans back home to discuss the morality of the War, and still keep his sense of humor. This Nam vet also has a phenomenal personal control. He can deal with ambushes from hell, comfort a fallen soldier's family, and then read in his hometown paper how Nam vets are baby killers, psychos, addicts, killers of innocent civilians."

The Lord gazed into the future and said, "He will also endure being villified and spit on when he returns home; rejected and crucified by the very ones he fought for."

Finally, the angel slowly ran his finger across the vet's cheek, and said, "There's a leak... I told you that you were trying to put too much into this model."

"That's not a leak," said the Lord. "That's a tear."

"What's the tear for?" asked the angel.

"It's for bottled up emotions, for holding fallen soldiers as they die, for commitment to that funny piece of cloth called the American flag, for the terror of living with PTSD for decades after the war, alone with it's demons, with no one to care or help."

"You're a genius," said the angel, casting a gaze at the tear.

The Lord looked very sombre, as if seeing down eternity's distant shores... "I didn't put it there," He said.


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