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Sarah reading her poems

WE DID IT ALL FOR YOU

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In remembrance of so many of us, nurses, and what we experienced. Dedicated to so many of you, soldiers of an unwanted war.

We heard about you on the radio,
We saw you on the TV.
We knew you were hurting so,
We went to the Nam Country.

We took you as you came,
We felt the mud and dirt.
We knew we would go insane,
We knew we couldn't stop the hurt.

We tore off your fatigues and boots,
We searched your parts and your holes.
We saw your limbs torn off like roots,
We suffered with you, for all our souls.

We stood for hours in your lost blood.
We screamed inside at those awful sights.
We cursed and raged and slid in the mud.
We knew the results of your frustrated fights.

We held your hand and said to hang in,
We prayed in silence for your sweet life.
We know full well our country's sin,
We hoped in vain for an end to the strife.

We went to be with you and help you too,
We weren't prepared and neither were you.
We couldn't believe what we all went through,
We worked to heal but who ever knew?

We pumped the blood and helped you sleep.
We changed your dressings and cut the pain.
We turned you over and scrubbed your feet.
We talked and listened and went insane.

We couldn't cry or we couldn't work,
We tried to be calm to do our job.
We never knew where the enemy lurked,
We daren't let out, even one sob.

We sorted you one from another,
We chose - if you live or die.
We struggled so much for you our brother,
We knew in our hearts we needed to cry.

We were there inside the operating room.
We cleaned your wounds, we put you to sleep.
We cut and sawed from noon til noon.
We swallowed and choked and sighed so deep.

We saw you at your very best, proud and smart.
We saw you at your worst, torn and wounded,
We held your maimed and mangled parts,
We lifted, pulled, pushed and turned your head.

We yelled for supplies that we didn't have,
We cringed when we read the media lies.
We held our breath as we applied the salve,
We wondered when America would open her eyes.

We hated the mud and rain and dust.
We hated the protests and lack of support.
We drank and danced and how we cussed.
We hoped and prayed for the war to be "short".

We wondered how you did perceive us,
We worried how well we were really doing.
We came to help, to heal and not to fuss.
We couldn't control the ugly war we were viewing.

We felt angry, enraged, sad and sick inside.
We wanted to protect you from anything more.
We didn't understand and we wanted to hide.
We couldn't leave you, we were all in a war.

We were frustrated and mad at all the news.
We hoped in vain for the telling of the truth.
We found some solace in beer and 'moody blues',
We took pictures of war to record the truth.

We didn't all make it, and neither did you.
We became numbers, counts and stats!
We were killed and lost, and wondered who knew?
We were people but were counted like rats!

We came home in the dark, broken or boxed.
We were the shame of this Country we served.
We were attacked or shunned like we were poxed,
We whores and dykes, names so undeserved.

We loved America and you dear sweet brothers,
We were nurses true blue and oh so few.
We cared, we suffered Nam sisters and brothers,
We want you to know -we did it all for you!


Written by Sarah Leah Blum, May 1984
Operating Room Nurse
12th Evacuation Hospital
Cu Chi, Vietnam, 1967

THE WALL

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That powerful immense black granite V draws
me down and into its outstretched sides.
I stand before the polished granite and I see
the year that marked the beginning of the war
from 1965 to 1975, and over 58,000 dead.
Each name etched into the black slab marked
with the year of death, and reflecting my face.
I'm a nurse, I cry, I was there but I don't know
any names. There were so many who died.I was
there in the operating room in 1967 and I didn't
get to know them. So I stand before each slab
and grieve. My eyes look over all the names for
that whole year and I wonder how many came
through the 12th evac.

We were there together my Brother, I felt your
pain and scare as we put you under. We took out
the shrapnel, sewed you back together again,
then made room for more.
One casualty after another, faces without names
- I remember, do you?

Was it really ten years ago when I first saw you
Wall at your dedication? 1982 and so many
emotions coming all at once. "I made it," I said
as I looked and felt your warmth under my hand.
And you in the Wall - you didn't - and here we are
together. I came to honor you and say what is
unsaid. Where is your flag? You died for that flag,
WHERE IS IT? We put up our own and stood
proud and tall - your sentinels. You're not alone
now my brothers. We're here and we care, we're
nurse.


Note: There was no U.S. flag for several years after the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Sadly... some considered our flag there a political statement...

Thanks to those like Sarah, our flag and the POW/MIA flag
fly proudly near the end of the West Wall.

© Sarah L. Blum 1984,1993. No duplication authorized without expressed permission of Sarah L. Blum.