The following post came requested by the author himself...a touching point of life,
Good for you my friend Tex, Good for you!!!:
Some that know me know I have an obsession with history and war….
My wife and I are involved in an inter-denominational marriage, with her being Baptist and I am Catholic. I don’t go every weekend with my wife, this weekend I did and the result was a powerful experience.
As we sat in church, the Pastor says, “Before we have a word a prayer we’d like to have a short presentation.”
…..And the film began.
I didn’t know the song, but the message was clear. The opening shot shows a woman writing to someone, presumably her husband with the final words of the letter saying, “Be safe.” The next shot cuts to the recipient, a soldier, sitting in a forest with the letter, staring and smiling to the sky. As the short video progresses, he writes a letter back, intertwining with shots of his wife holding his letter and smiling……As the next letter is shown with the same “Be Safe” line at the bottom, they show her husband involved in a battle. With explosions everywhere, he lunges out and grabs a wounded comrade and pulls him back…as he checks out the wounded soldier, he tells him to write to his wife and inform her he’s ok as he jumps out of the foxhole and runs towards the combat zone…..the next shot shows his wife holding the wounded comrades letter, sobbing. The following scene shows her continuously writing to her man, who’s now MIA. The letters contain the same familiar line, “Be safe.” Cut to the next scene, which shows our girl putting up clothes on the wash line in her backyard….
A black car pulls up. Now all of us who’ve seen war movies know this isn’t the ending we want to see. The woman looks at the car as two doors open, falls to her knees; sobbing, knowing this is it…her husband is dead. We see a comforting arm reach around her, attempting to console….or is it? The woman looks up to see the smiling face of her husband, still holding the letters she wrote with the lines, “Be Safe” ever present.
Now, I’m not a very emotional guy at all…actually Crusty and I have talked of it over beers at times. It’s just something I never felt right about, showing emotion in front of others. In 12 years that my wife and I have been together, she’s seen me cry once. And that was when I put my dog of 14 years to sleep.
This was a completely different situation as I sat there struggling to hold myself together.
Why you ask? This is the way my wife’s uncle served in the Vietnam War, with the exception of one thing….he came home in a casket. I looked over at my wife, who had tears in her eyes, and then my mother-in-law, whose brother is the one I’m speaking of. She too was extremely emotional.
Private First Class Raymond George Witzig was sent to Vietnam on February 8, 1968. He made it almost 3 months, until the fateful day of May 6, 1968 when his platoon was moving towards Long An, South Vietnam . His platoon stumbled upon an NVA ambush and exchanged fire with them off and on for an extended period of time. When the silence came over the battlefield, Raymond was directed to scout ahead with a small force….and he was the first to spot the enemy. He yelled out a warning and proceeded to lay down fire so his men could take cover. He continued until a VC sniper targeted him…and he fell.
I’ve been obsessed with war since I was a kid. I knew a ton about WWII since I was in third grade…an obsession that has grown as I’ve gotten older. But I never knew the personal cost a family must face when a loved one is killed in action. My father and two uncles were vets. My Uncle was a merchant marine and served in the Atlantic Ocean during WWII. My father’s brother (who sadly passed away last December) was in the Air Force and was a tail gunner in a B-29 who was just about to be sent to partake in the invasion of Japan . Luckily he did not go, thanks to Truman dropping the A-bomb. My father was in the 87th Signal Battalion in West Germany during the mid-1950’s. Something he is proud of to this day. He never saw combat, but serving near the Czech border meant one thing. If the Communists ever invaded Western Europe , he would’ve been one of the first to face such an invasion.
But to watch this video and the emotional reaction it triggered in me….
My jaw started to jitter and my eyes welled up, finding myself mourning a man that I neither ever knew nor was related to, a man who was only 20 years old and died 5,000 miles away from home 5 years before I was born. I tilted my head back and tried to remain composed thinking of the fact that the video showed an emotional reunion my mother-in-law was never able to experience. Her family never recovered from their loss. Even today, when his name is mentioned, there is a quiet second before the sentence is continued.
My wife’s grandmother died earlier this year and I talked with her once of him…..
The conversation is a bit murky to remember, but the one thing that stood out that day and continues to stand out in my mother-in-law’s eyes as well is the pain and loss….nothing I will never be able to understand and hopefully will never experience.
I try and pray for my mother-in-law everyday when it comes to her pain. Today, I was able to feel a small fraction of it.
I will leave you with this. Composed by my wife the day she went to the Wall in Washington DC .
As my fingers turned the pages, I began to feel a little anxious about finding his name. Reaching the page that contained the information I needed, I stopped and began to stare. Following his name across the page, I discovered its exact location.
As I turned to look at the Wall, the impact of it hit me hard. When I was able, I started to walk towards it. As I passed by each panel, I couldn’t believe all the names that were listed. Name after name, panel after panel, I kept on walking. Finally seeing 56E, I stopped abruptly, almost afraid to look for his name. Slowly, my eyes read down the list of names. Towards the bottom, the last name in the row, there it was written: Raymond G Witzig.
My uncle, my mother’s only brother, and a man I was never able to know. With my eyes fixed on his name, I couldn’t help but cry. Here was a young man, who gave his life for his country. Suddenly, I realized that I have lived a longer life now, than he did. HE was never given a chance to live his own life. I wondered why God would take such a young man away from his family and friends.
Even though I never personally met my uncle, I felt like I knew him when I saw his name on the Wall. I felt sad, happy, respect, anger, loss, & honor all at the same time as I stood before his name.
After a short time, I decided it was time to leave this memorial. Walking away, I paused and turned back to look one more time. I mouthed, “Good-bye Uncle Raymond”, as one last tear dropped from my cheek.
Thank a vet on this holiday and say a prayer or have a good thought for those vets or families that experienced loss in one way or another.
Welcome To Crustybeef!
Thank you to all the Veterans! Thank You to All!!