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Hell NO WE Won’t Go

The year is 1973 and I am 15 years old. This year I entered High School as the last leg of my studies to graduate. From that point on I have few choices I can make in my life. One get married and have a family. Two go off to College and further my education. Three take a few years off and travel. Four get a job and move out on my own. But this year is different. As I watch my school mates being drafted and shipped overseas to a war nobody wants to be in. The Vietnam War; that makes young men flee from their County in fear of the draft. 

In the years past I sat and watched the body bags and caskets being unloaded from the planes as they brought home the dead. I hear the fear in my friends’ voices as they announce their brother just received his draft notice in the mail. He has to register and be shipped off to this senseless war. The look in their eyes, the fear, the question will they ever see him again? 

By 1973 the war has started to affect everyone. I for one was no different. I had started to participate in a rebellious battle. My hair was long past my butt and half way to my knees. I braided my hair each day adding a leather band on my forehead. I would add flowers to my hair. I wore tie-dyed shirts to make a statement. I would take the new Levis my parents bought for me and soak them in bleach with rocks inside the bucket. After I would cut the legs outer seam of my pants up to the knees and add bright flowered material to make the bell bottom jeans everyone was wearing. I spent hours on end embodying peace signs, flowers, and anti-war designs on my pants.  I had to do my part. 

Everyone at school was wearing leather and silver bracelets with someone’s name on it. Praying for the men and boys who were captured or missing. Some of my friends’ Mothers volunteered at the offices set up for families of the war. Their job was to keep track of the POW’s and MIA’s. After school we would go to the office and collect bags of bracelets and roam the streets selling them to everyone. We believed if everyone wore a bracelet with a soldiers name on it he would come home again to his family. 

My solider was Col. Joseph Bowers. He never made it home. He is still on the list today of the MIA’s that never made it out of Vietnam. I followed my solider each day looking on the list hoping he was found. Hoping he would be reunited with his family and loved ones. He never was. To this day nobody knows what happened to him. 

As part of our anti-war efforts my friends and I created a book. We wrote pomes to the loved ones to give them hope. We sent our pomes off to the families of the solider we carried on our arms. We put forth all our efforts to try and stop a war that nobody wanted to fight. At one point we organized a sit in the middle of town. We thought if the Government would not listen to us maybe our local Congress would. Our efforts were of no vial. Nobody cared what happened to our friends. How young they were and why they had to leave to a Country that did not care about another person’s life. 

This is my Poem to the family of Col. Joseph Bowers and all the other men who were captured or lost in Vietnam.

The Sorrow of our Times 

Holy Father in Heaven above
Protect the men that we do love
Bless our children’s innocent face
Keep them safe in this unknown place
May they know that we are there
Holding hands in silent prayers 

Holy Father in Heaven above
You created him for me to love
You picked him out from all the rest
Because you know I’d love him best 

Holy Father in Heaven above
Look upon his innocent face
Protect his soul from his fears
Let him shed no more tears 

Holy Father in Heaven above
Take my son to thy above
Cleans his soul for what he’s done
Keep him safe for years to come 

Holy Father in Heaven above
Keep my son safe for me
Let him look from Heaven above
Knowing we are there to love 

Holy Father in Heaven above
Keep his memories safe with me
His touches so soft and kind
Will stay with me to the end of time 

I wrote this prayer to Col. Joseph Bowers’s family in his memory. He was sent to Vietnam and never returned home again. His body was never found and his family still morns his death to this day. I was 15 years old when Col. Joseph touched my life. I wore his name on my arm for years after the war. As I grew older I took this silver band off and placed it in a safe place. Every now and then I pull it out and look back on time to the year of 1973. To this day my bracelet still carries the blue star incased in the white circle telling me that Col Joseph Bowers is still a MIA in Vietnam.

Never forget the men and women that are away from home. It might not be Vietnam but it is a war all the same. My Uncle was lost in WW2. He boarded the last submarine in Pearl Harbor when it was attacked. He and his crew limped the damaged sub to San Francisco for repair. The last time my Mother ever saw her brother was the day he boarded the sub again headed towards Japan. His sub was lost somewhere in the South Pacific never to be found again. My Uncle rests at the bottom of the ocean incased in a medal prison. 

Never forget the men and women who have given their lives for America. Say a silent prayer now for each person who has given their lives so that you can be free today. Say a prayer for each man and woman that is away from their families now at war. Say a prayer for their families to bring their loved ones home safe to them. Each day take a moment to reflect back on the men of the past and the families that went on after they were gone.

By Ann LeFlore
A reflection back in time to the years of war that affected an entire nation



Comments on: "Hell NO WE Won’t Go" (2)

  1. Ann, the way you phrased “Medal Prison” made me cry……. Because I think that is exactly what it is: a medal of honor. I’m sorry you and your mom lost your uncle, but I believe he gave his life for a most honorable cause….

    You know we all react differently I think, to different things. And I think no one really knows how they will react until they are in the situation that requires it. Viet Nam is a really good example of that. I’m proud that the young people in our country saw the uselessness of that war and stood up to stop it. But at the same time, I was 14 in 1973. I didn’t have any older brothers who died there, but had many friends who had brothers over there, some who were killed. I wanted it stopped to, but felt the only way to do that was to follow your uncle’s footsteps. I’m not saying that you were in any way wrong for wanting that war to end. I’m just saying that’s what everyone wanted. I think what your uncle saw, what Col. Bowers saw, and what most of the young men saw in Viet Nam was a ruthless enemy hell bent on killing. And not just Americans, but women and children. And then hatefully destroying their food or killing the men of their village to make them helpless. Until you can actually see these things with your own eyes it’s hard to judge what your reaction should be. But as a 14 year old in 1974 the only overwhelming felling I had was that I belonged over there helping to put an end to it. Even though it truly wasn’t our fight. Even though it involved a nation full of innocent, poor civilians that are in no way connected to my own life, I still felt it was necessary for me to go there. I don’t know what your childhood entailed, but mine included Walter Kronkite and the CBS evening news everynight, where films of absolute horror were coming across the TV screen narrated by one field reporter or another who were often on the verge of tears themselves after having witnessed a days events over there.. I quit high school after my Junior year and was able to talk my mom into signing the waiver form, but to no avail. By that summer they had stopped sending troops over there and were pulling them out. So it was over, and I was glad. But I still joined the Army and did my time in Europe.

    I know the draft was in affect when you were in high school. But there were many, many people voluteering to stop the northern communists from dessimating those poor civilians of the south. I don’t know who Col. Bowers was, and I don’t know if you’ve ever been made aware of this, but most men who reach the rank of Colonel are career men, dedicating their entire lives to securing the freedoms of every man, woman and child in this country. In my eyes they are heroes simply for being alive. But laying down their lives for me or for my loved ones makes them absolutely monumental. I’m glad you are wearing his bracelet, and I hope you will continue wearing it forever……….

    • Thank you so much John. I understand all that you are saying. My Father was in the Military and was just recently put to rezt at sea. He fought for his country and so did my two Uncles and my Grandfather. All our lives we were raised to belive in helping others and doing all we can do for them. I really like all you have said and agree with this so much. I guess it was becasue of my Grandma that I sort of look at my Uncle at the bottom of the sea in a medal prision. She is Indian and taught us the spirt needs to be free. She was upset when she could not let her sons spirit be free and always feared the day they might find his sub. I am glad for her this one has never happened and his body is resting now at sea where most of the rest of our family is. When I grew up we also watched the news at night and I too saw this on the TV. It was hard to understand and I use to try and think how it was there for them. I am so happy that you have read this short story and poem I have written. Thank you so much.

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