My first time to Vietnam I landed in Da Nang early on Christmas morning
We were warned to be careful of begging children, and that they could be
I gave sweets, mostly, whilst I looked the crowd over for thieves. But, they
Some children had missing limbs. Some had scars, and some had shrapnel
I was naive and innocent. War destroys your innocence first. And yet, these
children were friendly, chatting and smiling. Save one.
I felt someone's presence at the back of the group...a couple or more steps behind
She did not hold her hand out like the others. I think that she felt different...not
as young or cute as the smaller ones? And, marred. I saw pain and hurt in her,
She raised her head again and looked into my eyes for a few moments. I had
She lifted her head, and we looked at each other for a long moment. I nodded to
Then, we looked at (and into) each other for a long, long moment. It was a very
You see, this beautiful Vietnamese girl had no right eye, nor even a patch.
She only had basic treatment...she did not wear an American uniform! She
may not have felt beautiful, but she truly was. Her eye was so beautiful and
soulful...as was her soul was and is. (Da Nang had no eye hospital until 1998).
She may have appreciated what little I gave her (I don't remember how much I
She took my heart and soul and humanized me in an instant. As we looked into
I felt awful leaving her. I would have food, water, and medical care if wounded.
I believe that our meeting was not by chance, nor a coincidence, and I have always
wondered what became of her. And, I have never forgotten her. And, I weep for
War is horrible and criminal. It makes super profits ''for the few'' at the expense
But, she is 'The Girl I Met On Christmas Day 1968- Da Nang.'
It is those things-what happens to children, old people, and (especially
young girls and women), homes, families, villes, cultures, societies, and
also, to other Marines blown to bits, maimed, traumatized for a medal that
hurts and causes pain most every day of my life.
Those of us who survived had to fight our own government as veterans for
War is a criminal enterprise! Or, as Major-General Smedley D. Butler said,
'War is a Racket'.