From Vietnam Veterans Against the War,

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Back From Nam (poem)

By Daniel C. Lavery

Dan Lavery reading from his memoir at
"Words on Fire" book signing December 2013.

Vets cradled by rehab nurses in pool with shot off limbs.
Some in wheelchairs tell themselves what they did was right.
They repeat an embedded phrase: "We did it for our freedoms."
"We killed people to allow the Vietnamese people to be free
And not allow the enemy to force their will on them."

"But that's what the draft did, man, said one with a beard.
"They forced me against my will to fight and kill people.
That's the worst thing in the world. What about my freedom."
"If you had a chance would you go back again?" asked one.
"No, I'd go to Sweden," a Black with no legs said in a chair.

Another said with head up, chin out, and anger, "Yes, I'd
Go back out of an obligation to do what's right for America.
No one has the right to tell anyone to do anything against their will.
That's what I went to Nam to fight for" said the patriotic man.
"But then you are saying the draft isn't the same as being forced."

"I'm saying no country can force others against their will."
"Some have to justify the war and can't say it was useless."
"Many can't live with what we did there killing people and stuff."
"They would be lying to say this was OK since I got a medal."
"Killing can't justify paralyzed people. We can't face we did wrong"

How many admit we did wrong and face the rest of life crippled?
You don't know what's going on, you been away too long.
You're out of touch my poor discarded man.
Yes, your left out, out of there without a doubt.
Your obsolete my poor old disabled friend.

Remember the Tet offensive and people blown away in Saigon?
I felt like an athlete in an Olympic event in combat city.
We have wasted a lot of time waiting for this opportunity.
What a time it was. Innocence, confidence, long ago.
Man fights battles on the land and sea.

My friend had brains but now is paralyzed in the psycho ward.
Earns more than those working on him from disability he can't use.
Man strapped on a cart uses crutches to move around.
They feed all the Vietnam psychos Thorazine to make them zombies.
Take me to the station. Put me on a train.

I don't think I'll ever pass thru here again.
I want to volunteer, says a youth
Without a clue after brainwashing by recruiters in uniform.
Once I was a strong man. Now I am so weak. Never in my
Sorry life have I ever felt like this, before.

—Daniel C. Lavery

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