, Muskogee, OK

June 6, 2014

Saluting father, vets on job well done

— Gone but never forgotten. 35 years ago this June, my father was murdered. When he died, a part of me died with him. I will never forget that day, nor the phone call my grandmother had to make. How do you tell a 12-year-old child, any child of any age “your father was killed.”

My father was on of the few, the proud, a Marine. He fought in Vietnam, and suffered from post traumatic stress disorder, as did many other veterans returning from battle then and now. But unlike any other war when the soldiers returned home to celebrations and parades; my father and the men like him who served during that awful time were spat on, called baby killers, denied employment, and suffered other rejections from the American people. But unless you were actually there, you cannot know the hellish world those soldiers had to endure on a daily basis.

My father did what so many men today seem incapable of doing, what so many fail to do, provide for their family. My father enlisted in the Marines in an effort to provide for his family. He did not know on that day he would continue to provide care for my mother and myself, not only in life, but long after his death. God knew.  

So on this day I salute not only my father, Lee Smith Jr.; but also the Vietnam veterans and every veteran since and fathers on a job well done.