Well, I joined a VFW.
That is, the Veterans of Foreign Wars. I could’ve joined it right out of Vietnam, but at that time of my life, I didn’t want to help support the war that I had just left.
I was turned off by the armed forces organizations particularly the American Legion back then. You see, my next-door neighbor in Conshohocken was a member of the Legion and took part in several marches outside of our town. He was older and had served in Korea after the Korean War.
But, he never faced combat a day in his life.
I felt that people like him were glorifying war and I didn’t want to take part in such activities. It wasn’t until this past July 4th holiday that I got the urge to join the local VFW. There was a table set up for the soapbox derby, which is an annual activity in my adopted town.
They were offering little toy soldiers like the kind you see in the movie Toy Story. Joining the VFW was free. That sold me immediately!
I got my DD 214, which is the document showing that I served in the military and was honorably discharged. Then I marched to the VFW just three blocks from my home, turned in my papers at the bar and one fella bought me a beer.
Man, I had not had a beer in a bar for what seems like eons. I thanked him and shared a few stories about the war and some of the things that we had experienced.
I also met a cop who had worked in Philadelphia for a number of years. He was retired and was now attending law school over the Internet and had just finished his second year of law school. We had a great discussion.
And I look forward to talking to him again.
Attached are photographs I had taken of the pictures that were painted on the Conshohocken VFW club wall. I watched as the artist – Kim Tatum Robbins – a young woman from outside of my town, designed all of the pictures and painted them over a series of weeks. I was especially touched by the small picture of a helicopter which I had gotten used to seeing and hearing while deployed in the war and still have flashbacks but in a good way. The copters were always taking me out of the bush and toward the more secure base camp.
Please enjoy the pictures: