Walking Down Memory Lane

June 16, 2015 § 1 Comment

As I mentioned in my last post, a friend of mine, is finishing work on a documentary outlining the challenges our fighting men and women and their families face when returning home from active service. After making a small donation to her Kickstarter campaign to raise the needed money for finishing the film (here’s the link: Battlefield: Home), I was reminded of the limited exposure I had to the plight of veterans as a news reporter in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Since this was more than 30 years ago, my memory is a bit hazy. However, I believe I was working on a local angle story to mark what at the time was the ten-year anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. I was lucky enough to be too young to go to Vietnam and lucky as well that the draft was ended about the time I was finishing high school.

The report I put together was a bit of a challenge in that I had trouble finding vets willing to talk to me on camera, something I doubt has changed with regard to the veterans of our latest military endeavors. I did, however, find someone willing to talk to me, someone who had the double challenge (as I recall) of being both a combat veteran and a Native American trying to find his way back into “normal” society. I wonder if he made it.

All of this is by way of working around to sharing some lyrics I wrote about six weeks ago, when my friend first entered the home stage on her film. I dedicate them to the memory of her father, himself a Vietnam veteran, and to the vet I interviewed all those years ago in Rapid City. I hope you made it all the way back.

Crazy John

He left his mind back in Vietnam
These days he stands and mutters ’bout the bomb
He says we’re headed straight to Hell
If we don’t change our ways

Some folks dismiss him as a Jesus freak
Watching him, I’m reminded of the meek
Who shall inherit the earth
At least that’s what the Book says

Everything that he once had
Everything he once lived for is gone
Safe in the dark corners of his head –
Known on the streets as Crazy John

He came home from the war to start again
They all turned their backs, even his friends
And when he thought he’d hit bottom
Found he’d further to go

Soon he found himself out on the street
Not much to his name and less to eat
He didn’t care what others thought
Some things, no one could know

Everything that he once had
Everything he once lived for is gone
Safe in the dark corners of his head –
Known on the streets as Crazy John

He’d seen the things a man could do
And knew the things that he had done
In lucid moments, still amazed
At what one could do with a knife and a gun
He tried to push the memories away
The drinking didn’t, then he found a way
He turned his back on sanity
Then, finally, he was free

They found his body on a winter’s day
And knew the demons were now chased away
The frozen smile there on his lips
Said he’d found peace at last

Everything that he once had
Everything he once lived for is gone
Safe in the dark corners of his head –
Known on the streets as Crazy John

© 2015 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

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