Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

'Shrapnel in the Heart' and the Wall

Wick's World


November 16, 2017

“Thanks Richie, I was really hoping someone would respond to my post. A month ago I wrote my column about kneeling with the NFL players and got pretty reamed out for it when I thought my freedom of speech was earned by my service to country. So what I am saying, Richie, is that I appreciate doers like you over flag wavers who won't get out of their chair to honor vets.”

This was my Facebook response to a fellow vet who did the customary thanking of veterans on their day for their service. I appreciated the differing opinions to my past column, but I feel something was lost in the interpretation. It was the fact that both the NFL players and I had no intention of dishonoring soldiers and the military. Our intentions were to point out the lack of equal treatment in our country. We guarantee equal treatment every time we Pledge Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America. Take heed of the final words of that pledge: “With liberty and justice for all.” Unfortunately, that message was twisted into a lack of respect for the military and the flag before an NFL team could even make a first down.

I consider the very act of writing a letter to he editor, as did Judee and Jim, defending their positions, to be acts of patriotism. That said, let’s show what I consider to be real dedicated acts of patriotism that requires one to leave the comforts of the couch and bundle up in the cold to honor a veteran.

Mike Peterson and his troops are at Veterans Park in Moose Lake every Veterans Day to give a shout-out and a 21 gun salute to honor both the fallen and the lucky veterans who came home. That is an annual act of patriotism worth leaving the house for.

Why haven’t I been there for the past 10 years? Because I live in the Twin Cities, which offers me many ways to show my patriotism. Attending “Shrapnel in the Heart” offered a chance to honor vets by remembering those who did not make it home. The play also emphasized those who physically made it home, but mentally left a part of their soul in Vietnam. America failed its soldiers back then.

Eventually, the overwhelming response to all vets today is an almost hero-worshipping thank you to honor everyone who did serve. For some vets, it has become almost too repetitive. I say, “Vets, get used to it.” America needs to make it up to those Vietnam vets who were so uncouthly ignored and this is the easiest way for individuals to do this.

Ways we can honor vets are to actually attend a Veterans Day service. From the time I played trumpet as a freshman at Chamberlain High School, Duke Douville would come to me and say “Fisher, we need you to play ‘Taps’ tomorrow.” Another brother (sister), as us veterans like to call ourselves, had been laid to rest. I also played ‘Taps’ at many a Memorial and Veterans Day service. If I was asked to play today, I’m afraid my lips would quiver with too much emotion to do justice for a veteran's final hymnal.

If you get a chance, go see “Shrapnel in the Heart.” The reading of the first of many letters collected at the Vietnam Memorial Wall assured the actors that by the time the performance ended, there wouldn’t be a dry seat in the house.

All wars are filled with anguish and sorrow, pride and pain. I don’t take my patriotism lightly, but I prefer action over passivity, not that it makes me any more or less patriotic than the next guy. We all need to accept each other’s way of expressing ourselves, even to the point of taking offense as in the flag kneeling. For me, I will always be a brother in arms to all veterans.

Today I honor some friends, Gold Star brother John Wayrynen, whose Medal-of-Honor brother Dale jumped on a grenade and saved the lives of five brothers-in-arms. I honor my very close friend, Tom Zeigler, who was the first tunnel rat I ever knew. He died over 20 years ago from Agent Orange. I also remember my son’s high school classmates, Matt and Moises, who would often stop by for the Super Bowl. They died way too young in the Iraq War. I honor our former legislator’s son, a chopper pilot from the Kerrick area, who loved to fly. He went down in Iraq protecting his brothers and sisters like good soldiers do.

Ask a vet why they risk their lives fighting for their country. A common response is, “I did it for my brothers (sisters).” In war, death has no preference.


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