“Casualties of War” Poem by Heather Burton Reynolds
This poem was sent in to us by Heather’s husband Kevin. I was so moved by this poem along with Kevin’s support for his wife. With his permission I am sharing it with you.
“My wife of 25 years will die from Lyme, Babesiosis, Bartonella or Rocky mountain spotted fever. We don’t have the means to save her. She has made me promise not to let them put anything other than a tick born illness on her death certificate. She wrote this poem and asked me to lay it below her late father’s friends names at the Vietnam memorial in D.C. on mother’s day. Our daughter is so young but there isn’t much more we can do. I hope this poem gives someone strength she learned from her dad to keep fighting.”
Casualties of War
None of us live forever were the words I would often hear.
Words softly spoken from a man I held so dear.
He taught me to be brave and stand up for what is right.
He said don’t ever give up my child, never go down without a fight!
Hard lessons he once learned just after high school prom.
when he was drafted into the marine corps,
destined for someplace they called Vietnam
On a bus In the cover of darkness the first leg of his journey began
Headed to Parris Island knowing he would soon become a man.
The bus was filled with boys, Son and brothers just like he
profoundly realizing what it meant to be American, to be free!
Drill Sergeants tore him down as they yelled at him and screamed
Now he’s just a number, rebuilt into a lean, mean, fighting machine.
His innocence and youth would soon be long gone.
His life forever changed when he landed in Vietnam
He didn’t know the politics much less the reasons why
Just forced to travel far away where he’d see so many die
He had to pick up a gun and hit right where he aimed
with the sole intent to kill a man, to wound him or even maim
He had to kill his fellow man for reasons he didn’t know
it was kill or be killed or in a body bag home he would go
Death has its own smell, taste, sound and feel
One that can break any man even ones made of steel
“Were Fighting for their freedom!” so often it was said
Tell that to a soldier that’s forced to count the dead
When his time was finally over and at last he was sent home
He was greeted at the airport by protesters and cruelly spit upon
He learned to keep his mouth shut and made to feel ashamed
so he never spoke about it because he felt he was to blame
The flashbacks came so often as he would often see
The faces of the people he killed, people just like he
Agent orange had ravaged his body and as he prepared to die
It was time to come to terms with all he’d done and try to understand why?
It all became so clear It was for freedom that he fought
He fought for the people of Vietnam as it was liberty they desperately sought
If he had to do it again he wouldn’t change a thing
He’d fight in a second to let freedom ring
Now I’m in a war myself and one I’m too weak to win
It’s red tape and bureaucracy that will certainly do me in.
My body is now ravaged and gets weaker every day
I’m not ready to give up yet but I see no other way
I have private insurance but the doctors say I’m not sick
I have four diseases that all come from a tick
The treatments that I need I can’t afford to buy
How do I explain to my young daughter that her mommy will soon die
Do I send my daughter to college or buy medicines to save my life
what will my family do without their mother and their wife?
I lay this letter here in hopes that someone will see
Please help all the others too weak to fight and suffer silently
Now I must teach my daughter to be brave and stand for what’s right.
Don’t ever give up my child, never go down without a fight!
A war cannot be fought without casualties
Never take for granted that freedom isn’t free
Heather Burton Reynolds, Mothers Day 2017
Can We Help this Family?
After sending in this poem and getting to know the father a bit, I was really touched by his love and concern for his wife. And also for the concern his wife has for the future of their daughter. Feeling helpless, I wondered what we could all do to help them. She was doing good under Dr Jaller’s care but just can’t afford treatment anymore. So instead of treating every penny is going towards their daughter’s college fund. ♥
Whenever I see choices like his having to be made and people being so selfless and sacrificing, an ailing mom worried about her daughter, with a military father, a veteran that got sick but held onto and fought for hope for his daughter, a father now trying to hold the family together. I hope that we can come together as a community and help somehow.
To Help Heather and her Family