My Dad arrived in Viet Nam on his 21st birthday.  He didn’t share much more than that when my brother and I were kids.  He’d brought a few souvenirs back with him, some tall black wooden vases with etchings on them, and he’d told us a little about where he got them.  He also told us he’d accidentally left a camera, with film full of undeveloped photos from his time over there, in the back of a taxi cab, never to be seen again. 

                Then a few years ago, he told me he shared a story about his time in Viet Nam with a student from Central Connecticut State University.  She was part of a Creative Nonfiction Workshop class that was collaborating with Viet Nam veterans.  The students interviewed the veterans and wrote their stories.  Those essays and reflections were published in the spring of 2012, in a book titled In- Country and Back.

                My Dad’s story is the first one.  He gave me a copy of the book, and I was touched that he wanted to share that with me.  As I read each veteran’s story, I was humbled to hear them speak with such honesty- about what they saw, about fear, and about sacrifices. 

                After a visit to Washington DC and the memorials this summer, I was reminded of their words.  I thought of their stories as I walked along The Wall, my own reflection cloudy among the thousands of names.   I gathered words from their stories and wrote a poem for my Dad, a tribute to all the veterans in the book, really. 

                On Veteran’s Day this year, I’d like to say thank you to my Dad, and to all the veterans.  I recognize that you all believed and stood for something larger than yourselves, and I admire and respect that.  Thank you for your service, your dedication, your bravery. 


                A Tribute to My Father, Viet Nam Veteran                          


I’ve been In-Country,

out of place,

out of time

I’ve been to the places

where Luck and Death don’t discriminate

seen the fear, the uncertainty

and the scars

I’ve been down the roads

the dense forests, the rice paddies

Saigon, Bien Hoa

I’ve been In-Country

where soldiers were boys

and boys were soldiers

and all that were gone

were gone too soon

I’ve been In-Country

and I’ve been back

I’ve been to The Wall

and I’ve remembered


by G.L. Mulroy

One thought on “Reflections

  1. Pingback: The Story | Gretchen L. Mulroy

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