My Friend Joe – Barbara Sisney Daniel

Joe was a true patriotic, Vietnam  American soldier. He served from 1967 to 1968 in Vietnam. Later years, he started suffering from various illnesses due to Agent Orange. He died about two years ago with cancer and other complications.

Agent Orange was a chemical used to spray the jungle foliage and to flush out the enemy soldiers. Joe was among the many of our troops exposed to this chemical. I never heard him complain or talk of his Vietnam experience. He loved his family, and friends where he went to school and lived most of his life. (Clinton, MO).

Joe’s name may not be on the “Wall” but he would have come to meet other Vietnam soldiers visiting and those whose names are written down. The Vietnam War was fought by men who received little honor for their military service. The Wall will honor them, and remind those living that a price of life was paid by brave men as in men in other wars. Those who came home with memories of the brave souls that died believing in freedom, Men and women serving in many capacities.

I have a friend who was a nurse in Vietnam. She will be 80 years old on her birthday in September. She doesn’t speak of the horrors she saw.

Those living today and able to read the names written on the Wall will hope their lives are not wasted. We are walking upon a land earned by men who believed in freedom and peace.

I’m reminded of a movie I saw in Ava when I was a little girl during WWII. It was about the Sullivan brothers. The Fighting Sullivans. Five brothers who refused to be separated and served in the Navy on the U.S.S. Juneau, and were among 687 men who lost their lives when the Japanese torpedoed the Navy ship (Editor’s note: The Juneau sunk on November 13, 1942 during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal). A Japanese submarine 1-26 hit the light cruiser near the munitions magazines. The five Sullivan boys died from that attack. Their ages ranged from 20 to 27. They become known as ‘The Fighting Sullivans’. We can hope they didn’t die in vain. The U.S. Navy named two destroyers in honor of the brothers (DD-537 and the Sullivans DDG-68). The Sullivan DD-537 was decommissioned in 1965 and now serves as a memorial of the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park. A very interesting story is in the AMAC Summer Magazine. I remember the Sullivans and how their deaths impacted our lives.

The Sullivan brothers became symbols of heroic sacrifice. And the grief of mother and families still cry out for souls of loved ones. And will until there will be no more war.

I found an old page taken from my mother’s seventh grade reader. She was about eleven years old then. (1926) and going to school at Pontiac, Missouri. Mother loved to read and could remember well,

The page is a letter composed by Abraham Lincoln in November, 21, 1864 to a grieving mother. I think it expresses the understanding of the grief suffered by mothers of our fallen soldiers in all wars.

May Joe rest in peace and his lovely family be strong as their daddy and grandpa was.

Mrs. Bixby,

Boston, Mass.

Dear Madam: 

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.

I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,

A. Lincoln

Time doesn’t change grief nor the loss of a loved one in war.