Listen To The Silence

Published: Thursday, May 29, 2014 at 08:53 AM.

            Me and Leon ought to get the credit for all those medals David Mark garnered in Viet Nam. We beat on him most everyday during his formative years. It was our patriotic duty to toughen him up a mite! We double teamed him on slow days. He would never surrender to us. You talk about mule headed and obstinate. He wouldn’t give in, he wouldn’t give up; he wouldn’t admit defeat. He’d die before he’d quit fighting back! He never counted the odds, consequences, licks or setbacks.   

You could say the younger brother got the short end of the stick…..or you might consider the survival skills that came early and natural for him. I’ll tell you this, he was the toughest Colbert boy by a whole heap, and then some!

We are a fortunate nation. We have always managed to find the toughest, bravest and most stubborn men among us to send off to war. Duty, right, honor, pride, responsibility, love of country weren’t lines in a John Wayne movie to soldiers like my little brother.

That Green Beret training was a snap for David. The twenty parachute jumps a walk in the park. He wanted no part of Viet Nam. But then, he hadn’t wanted those sneak attacks and blindsides from me and Leon either. When the call came, he answered without wavering simply and solely because his country asked him to. For the American soldier, from Lexington Green to Afghanistan, it had always been thus.

Daddy had done his island hopping across the South Pacific with MacArthur before we were born. I didn’t set up nights praying for his safety. It was different with David in Viet Nam. I worried every day. I checked the list of killed and missing in action. I actually let my thoughts drift to the very real possibility that he might not come back. I pondered the imponderable!

It brought home in a very real sense the unimaginable tragedy of each and every single American soldier who ever laid down his life for this country. They all had a brother…..or mom, little sister, father, girl friend. They were not “objects” in a history book. They were not statistics on a tally sheet. They were far more than political propaganda or names on a wall. It was a breath from God extinguished in this life. 

Yeah, I hugged Dave’s neck on his safe return. I reminded him I could still “take him” anytime I wanted to. He chuckled but didn’t bother to qualify that fallacy with an answer. The conversation turned serious as I tried with all my might to “thank” a returning hero. He dropped his head, there was a slight pause and the stare was long and went somewhere I couldn’t see. He whispered a line we’d heard our Dad say of his World War II stint, “K. C., the real heroes didn’t come back”

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