A Letter That Described Christmases That Can't Be Repeated  

TomEboy10 60M
357 posts
10/4/2005 10:54 am

Last Read:
3/5/2006 9:27 pm

A Letter That Described Christmases That Can't Be Repeated

On the ground beneath the stone bearing her son's name at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Eleanor Wimbish placed a letter, protected in plastic, written to her son William who was 21 when he died in Vietnam.Bill died in a hellicopter crash in February 1969. When the Memorial was dedicated in 1982 - 57,939 names of dead soldiers etched on a black wall - his mother stayed away.But on May 9th, his birthday, his mother wrote a letter and drove from Baltimore to place it by his name. Five letters followed. The Christmas letter is three pages long, tacked on a board with two pictures of William, one of him as a smiling dimpled 3 year old, the other of him at 21, dressed in military fatigues. a rifle over his shoulder.

I sat down at break to read the paper when I about this woman and her loss.As I read the letter, tears welled up in my eyes.It made me angry and sad - for her loss and the stupid waste that was Vietnam.I have friends who were vets who were spit on and ridiculed for serving.I had a neighbor who fled to Canada in protest. I watched the news the day those students were killed at Kent State.I watched as the North took control after we left.It was a waste of human life, a war that I believe then and now we had no reason to participate.When we found no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq I immediately expected to see the troops return home yet sadly I read about the loss of men and women every day serving in a war that seems to be more about gas than freedom.I know this letter describes the feelings that fathers and mothers and sisters and brothers and husbands and wives are experiencing right now and I want the madness to end.

Below is the letter that Eleanor wrote her son on Christmas Day.

Dear Bill,
Today is Christmas Day,1983. I come again to this memorial, this black wall,to see your name and rub my fingers across it, to tell you how much I love you, to leave this leter and to cry.

One Christmas I can remember so vividly is when you were ten and we were having a hard time financially but we managed to get you your two wheel bike.I will never forget how big those brown eyes were when you saw that bike. There never was a happier 10-year-old, or two happier parents as they watched you.
here were so many Christmases that I can remember where we shared joy and love.But these times you can't hold onto for very long and all too soon they just become memories. But these I still have. So many memories of Bill, with Donna, Barry,Marianne,Mindy and Dad and me and the love and happiness we shared.

The good years went by all too quickly and then came Vietnam, taking you away forever. Remember Christmas 1968 in Vietnam when I sent you enough goodies to share with your buddies? And especially the fudge, for that was your favorite.

Remember the 4 foot artificial Christmas Tree with the unbreakable ornaments? And especially the three little monkeys I tied to the tree and I named them Barry, Marianne and Mindy?These three kids loved you so much Bill and when you died it was a very long time before they could laugh and get back to a normal life, for you were so special to them.

After Christmas you wrote and told me that you were the only one you knew who recieved a Christmas Tree and only a goofy Mom like me would do such a thing...

After you died, I told myself that if I ever did anything right in my life, it was by sending you that Christmas Tree. I could go on and on and on Bill but the tears are streaming down my face so fast, I can hardly see, so I'll just sit here and cry for a while before I go on.

I'm trying to write again without crying but with a son like you Bill there are so many memories. And some of thenm are really painful, especially at Christmas time. When no matter what I do, I can still see you as you helped us trim the tree or catch you stealing cookies before they were even cool.Or waiting to lick the spoon after I made the fudge...

I barely get through one paragraph before the tears start falling again.Oh God, if only things were different and Vietnam never happened. And all the names here with you on the black wall were not just names but living people, how different our lives and so many others would be.But that is not the way it is.

And because of my husband Russ, my four living children, my seven beautiful grandchildren, I will laugh and be happy this Christmas,Bill. But we will all remember you with lots of laughter and tears as one of your brothers or sisters will say,'Remeber when Bill did this or that' and it will start us down memory lane.Then slowly you notice things are getting quiet and the room is getting empty and you realize that each one of us had enough memories for now and each has quietly disappeared to cry and then get themselves under control, trying not to upset each other.

I will close for now Bill but not before thanking God for loaning you to us for 21 years. To have held you, loved you and enriched our lives just by knowing you, although painful the memories might be at times. I know now you were God's special gift to me and to all who knew and loved you.

keithcancook 61M
18125 posts
10/4/2005 5:47 pm

What can one say in the face of such tragedy? I fear that war will affect future generations just has it has done with those gone by. It is a curse on our species and I do not see a world without wars ever coming to this planet.

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