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Life ... It's Why We Cook.

Two Heroes 
 
Nov. 10, 2011 6:42 am 
Updated: Nov. 18, 2011 1:25 pm
His story was never told. He believed nobody wanted to hear it, and he was probably right. After all, the dance contests and survival contests on TV are more important than an old man marking time so he could die. He had nobody to encourage him to live. Nobody could take that kind of time- they are all too busy with their own priorities.
He knew his time was near. He knew exactly how it felt because he had been there before. He wasn’t afraid now as he was back then. He even welcomed death. Nobody cared, he was sure of that. When nobody cares, you want to move on, right? His closest acquaintance is the nurse that would bathe him and help him eat. She had been his nurse for forty one years, and he knew she would retire soon. All the others had quit coming.
He was happy to know that today’s soldiers are honored and supported. Not like back then. Not at all. Back then, he was told he should have died over there. He was spat upon, called murderer, baby killer, rapist. He couldn’t understand that. He had conducted himself honorably, always. He had taken food and medicine for the ones caught in the fight without shelter. He honored the captured and fallen enemy as fellow soldiers deserving of respect. At home though, he was called those horrible lies. That’s why he went back. At least the enemy understood him. He didn’t want to go home, anymore. His country hated him. He was sure of that. He stayed over there for almost two more years.
He remembered being in country and then a huge flash and explosion. The next memory was waking up. It was quiet, dark, too. He tried moving. It felt like he was moving but there wasn’t any weight. Later, he awakened again and there was light. He was in a room. There were strange instruments around him. He looked to his left and could look out a window. There were cars moving. American cars! He thought the only place to find American cars was Saigon but this many? He didn’t know. He was never there. He was always in country.
Somebody came in. A nurse?  Maybe. She looked at him and left immediately. Seconds later a man (a doctor?) came in. He was soon joined by more people that looked like medical pros. He knew they were talking but he couldn’t hear them. He tried to speak. Nothing would happen.
In the next few weeks he learned he had no legs, no left arm, only part of his right arm (and it wouldn’t move) and something was wrong with his insides, too. He was in the USA and had been there over three years. The war was over. His dad had died. His brother had died over there just days before the war ended.
His sister came to see him and was able to write on a board that his mother was living with her. Too much tragedy in only a short time had taken her will to live. Mama wouldn’t last much longer. Then, his sister didn’t come back.
As he awakened he suddenly felt warmth that he hadn’t felt in decades. It felt like the last time his mother had hugged him as they said goodbye, the warmth that only a mother can give. Then he saw her holding out her arms for him to come to her. He did.
As the coffin was lowered into the ground, and the honor guard was leaving, one person stayed at the grave. She knew him well. She knew what he suffered. She marveled at his ability to survive. She loved him for being the most heroic soldier she had ever known. She had seen hundreds of them. Yes, she even cried. She was his nurse. Now, she would retire.
There are heroes in our VA Hospitals all across this nation. We will never know their stories if we shut them out. Find the fortitude to visit them soon. They were there for the USA but where is the USA for them? You are the USA.
No, that’s not right. We are the USA!
 
Comments
Nov. 10, 2011 7:02 am
So touching Mike and so true. Thank you for a wonderful blog.
 
Nov. 10, 2011 7:20 am
Yes Mike and speaking as one, the nurses are heroes too.
 
Nov. 10, 2011 7:29 am
You always have the right words, Mike. Thank you for this blog.
 
Nov. 10, 2011 7:52 am
Amen.
 
Nov. 10, 2011 8:35 am
Mike, well done. I'm also happy that today's soldiers (heroes and she-roes) are honored and supported. I do remember well "back then" yet I'm still proud of being "in country." It warms my heart that NASCAR is honoring the Vietnam Veteran during the Sunday race.
 
redly 
Nov. 10, 2011 9:00 am
Grateful for my guys and also grateful that my sons did not have to be there. My ex father in law broke his back in the Korean war and lost feeling in his hands. Just thinking about it.
 
mis7up 
Nov. 10, 2011 10:17 am
Beautiful! More then words can say. Very well put, thank you.
 
Nov. 10, 2011 10:32 am
Beautifully written, Mike. My DH was a Vietnam vet and many of his buddies either didn't make it home or were in very rough shape, more emotionally than physically. There is still a lot of bitterness among those brave people and a lot of unseen damage. Thank you for reminding us.
 
Nov. 10, 2011 1:39 pm
YES WE ARE THE USA! i'm proud...no make that crazy PROUD of our soldiers and vets! they deserve more respect then just i can muster, but they got me!
 
Nov. 10, 2011 2:12 pm
What a great way with words you have! I am PROUD to be an American. Thank you for this blog!
 
Linnie 
Nov. 10, 2011 5:21 pm
Touching blog, Mike. My hubs is a Vietnam vet also. Sometimes he talks about it and sometimes not. War is such a greedy entity. It takes so much from so many. Your writing is haunting but beautiful. Thanks for writing this.
 
Nov. 10, 2011 5:34 pm
Oh Mike, you've made me cry. I remember when we treated our returning Vets so horribly. What a terrible shame that time was for our country. I so love our Vets and I just LOVE nurses. Well said! Thank you for a timely blog!
 
Mamaw1 
Nov. 10, 2011 7:45 pm
Thank you, Mike, for a beautifully, respectfully written reminder of the truth. The vietnam War was especially ugly. I am so ashamed of the way our country treated the soldiers that were put through it. I still cannot understand why we could allow such dishonoring behavior toward these soldiers. Their lives were forever altered! My daughter works in Palliative care at Richard Roudebush VA Hospital in Indy. She sees so much pain and torment. Many of her patients are Vietnam War Vets. Thank you, again for sharing this poignant writing.
 
Nov. 10, 2011 11:25 pm
I spent many summers visiting the veteran's hospital in Kerville, Texas. My grandfather was there. I was a young girl and it seemed so scary to go there to me. I couldn't have been more wrong. The people there were so welcoming and they loved seeing visitors. My grandfather was not physically wounded in the war but did have mental scars. He was lucky enough to return to his family after the war but my grandma said he was a different person. Thank you so much for posting this. If you live near a veteran's hospital go visit. I know you won't regret it!
 
Nov. 11, 2011 12:26 am
SOOO Sad! I feel awful and so underserving of his selflessness. He deserved Better! God Bless the USA. Thank you Mike for reminding us that we live in the Greatest, if not faulty, country in the World!
 
Maggi 
Nov. 11, 2011 2:56 am
Thank you for the beautiful and touching blog. Oh my, this is a wake up call for too many of us.
 
Nov. 11, 2011 4:11 am
Thank you Mike Harvey! My father was a Canadian WW11 veteran. He met and married my Dutch mother before returning to Canada after the war and they raised seven children. He died 41 years ago at the age of 56. Every Remembrance Day we gather at the Cenotaph in the middle of town to observe a minute of silence in honor of those who never came home, and in support of those still guarding our freedom. Today the winds and rain are howling and the ceremony is moved inside for the first time I can remember. As children, if we balked about going out to stand in the cold, my mother would say "if they can fight in the trenches, you can stand here to honor them". You see, as a Dutch war bride, she experienced war as well and was in hiding for a few years because she worked in a government office which held the names of all men eligible to fight. The entire office went into hiding to protect that list from the enemy. She still recounts the joy of liberation by the Canadian soldiers, but rarely comments anymore on the horrors of the war - she says she wants her peace now. So to all the veterans, past and present, our extreme gratitude for the selfless service which allows us to sleep cozy and safe in our beds at night. WE WILL REMEMBER!
 
Nov. 11, 2011 6:31 am
Thank you, Mike. How little attention we pay to those heroes. It just doesn't seem right, does it?!
 
Nov. 11, 2011 6:57 am
Thank you for this blog Mike. It is a painful reminder. My eldest brother is a Vietnam Vet - 1968 / 69. When he returned home it was in civilian clothes as it was ill advised to travel in uniform. He rarely talks about his time in Vietnam - the sound of helicopters still make him uneasy. His medals, slides and other memorabilia are packed away in a trunk. Today, he will meet with some Army Vet friends for lunch - they understand like others cannot. He, thankfully, came home whole but he never will forget those that didn't. A huge THANK YOU to all who have and are currently serving - you are my heros.
 
Mangel 
Nov. 12, 2011 2:03 pm
Mike this post says so very much about our priorities. On Veteran's Day, I had the honor of reading aloud over 100 names of fallen veterans, including my cousin who lost his life in September of 2010. It was a very emotional and proud moment for me to be able to remind our staff and students of the sacrifice these brave men and women made for us all. On a side note, when I walked into my classroom Friday morning, several students immediately said that I should cancel class in honor of Veteran's day. My response to them was this: Veteran's Day is the last day that we should cancel class because the day honors those who make it possible for us to have the opportunity to pursue an education; without those people and their sacrifice, our classroom would not exist. Two uniformed veterans nodded silently to me while the other students promptly closed their mouths and picked up their pens. Thank you for reminding us all that the survivors are just as much heroes as the ones who didn't make it back.
 
Kaley 
Nov. 18, 2011 1:25 pm
OMG, I read this to my sister and we both started crying. I love our troops!
 
 
 
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Mike Harvey, daPITA

Home Town
Battle Creek, Michigan, USA
Living In
Climax, Michigan, USA

Member Since
Dec. 2008

Cooking Level
Intermediate

Cooking Interests
Grilling & BBQ, Frying, Stir Frying, Mexican, Italian, Southern, Gourmet

Hobbies
Gardening, Fishing, Photography, Reading Books

Links
 
 
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About Me
At age 16, I began cooking when my mother was injured in an accident that kept her off her feet for five weeks. At first, my repertoire was fried hot dogs with pork and beans, boiled hot dogs with macaroni and cheese or pizza from a box. After a couple weeks of this, my younger brother was the first to protest and demand variety and my dad was quick to support him. That was my first cooking challenge, learning to plan a meal. About that time, mom returned from the hospital and from her bed, began teaching me things like roast beef, fried chicken, stews and all the sides and trimmings. In 1967, I married and my wife designated herself as the cook and this continued until 1999. It was then that I (voluntarily) began cooking again. At some point, I realized that I was having fun and began searching for recipes that were more challenging and interesting. I found AR and used it's recipes for a long time before registering and later becoming an active member.
My favorite things to cook
Soups. How can I go wrong? They are a great way to use up leftovers and those veggies that are approaching the end of their usefulness. They are always an original recipe. Roasts and steaks are favored, also. Getting the right "doneness" and choosing appropriate sides for a tastey and attractive meal is a continuing and always evolving menu.
My favorite family cooking traditions
If creating impulsive menus and recipes is a tradition then, (I guess) we have a tradition. A new tradition is developing. I have a fruitcake recipe that, I believe, is near perfection. I make it just before Thanksgiving so it is aged enough for the Christmas/ New Year holidays.
My cooking triumphs
Without a doubt, my own recipe for a Reuben Sandwich. It has been a demanded item for many years and I shared it in my AR blog. http://allrecipes.com/Cook/13101603/BlogEntry.aspx?postid=204609
My cooking tragedies
Too many. I have been able to throw them out and have something new before my wife gets home. Most of the time, anyway.
 
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