Vietnam isn't just a country in Southeast Asia where we spent a year of our lives. For many of us, it is our lives.
Vietnam isn't just an interlude in our growing up -- a stage between adolescence and adulthood. Vietnam is our childhood, our adolescence, our adulthood, our old age, and for some of us, our death.
Vietnam isn't just a time period when we were learning new things about ourselves and our lives. Vietnam is the 1 year plus 25 when we learned more than we could ever understand about ourselves and life and death.
Vietnam isn't just a year when our lives were on hold. Vietnam is the peak experience of our lives, the touchstone by which we test every other experience, every other relationship, every other high, every other low.
Vietnam is a blessing and a curse, our life and our death, our creation and our destruction, a soaring and a drowning, our true love and our hated enemy, an R&R and a firefight, a freedom bird and an ambush.
We'd probably do it again, given a choice; but we wouldn't want our kids to.
Vietnam gave us who we are and keeps trying to take it away. It gave us who we are and won't let us be who we want to be.
Vietnam is hundreds of young men smiling and hundreds of older men crying.
Vietnam is a girl finally coming into her own and a woman still looking for the girl.
Vietnam is when we learned to love not just the people we knew but the ones we didn't know.
Vietnam is an abiding love for the men who only ever needed to smile at us to make that 1 year + 25 all worth it.
Red Cross Donut Dollie, '67-'68