I will be the gladdest thing under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers and not pick one.
~Edna St. Vincent Millay, "Afternoon on a Hill"

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"Thank you for wearing the bracelet....."

It was 1973 and we had just moved to Antioch, Ca. We bought a new home and I had recently  given birth to my second son. It was a busy, happy time in our lives.  The news was always and incessantly about the unpopular war over in Vietnam.  I was very upset about the Vietnam War and the losses that seemed endless. I wanted to do something and felt guilty that my lifestyle didn't seem to show any of the concern that I felt.
I was never comfortable with the protests down in Berkeley and most of the people that were joining the anti war rallies were more about being there and making lots of noise  than being truly committed to the cause.  I know there were some who were dedicated, but the mass of demonstrators were, I thought, there for the thrill of it. I wasn't sure that I wanted to make any statement  that would have reflected on our troops over there so my body didn't protest....  but my feelings were strong and my prayers were for our men over there that didn't understand the confusion of this war anymore than we did.
So, in 1973, I hear about a new program that was selling bracelets with names of soldiers that were missing in actions or prisoners of war. (Here is a site that give some history on this.) This was something I could do to support our troops and make a statement.
It was not a fancy bracelet. Just a piece of metal with a name and a date. That's all. The name.... Major Henry Muir Serex and he was shot down with his crew on April 2, 1972. I wore this bracelet for years and then, at some point in my life, I put it away, with the letter from his wife.....
and the information I have gotten on the P.O.W. network. Every year either on Memorial Day or Veterans Day I take the bracelet out and put it on..... then I read the letter. His two daughters are 51 and 48 now. They will never know what happen to their father.
There is a long history of  mis-information, called off rescues, cover ups and withholding of information to families of MIA's . Major Serex is just one story. I would hope that in their lifetime these daughter of a proud and committed career officer in the Air Force will get some answers.
"Major Serex is fondly known as "Mick" by his family....His plane was shot down over South Vietnam on Easter Day, April 2, 1972..... rescue teams were unable to determine the fate of the plane's crew. Thus, my husband has been listed as Missing-In- Action."
" We sincerely hope all POW's will soon be released and all MIA's fully accounted for.With your help, support and prayers, it may become a reality  in the near future and not just wishful thinking. I will keep you posted when my husband's status is changed."
 That was 37 years ago.It haunts me to this day......

10 comments:

Kerry O'Gorman said...

I can see why this would haunt you...missing persons always leave that open gap that can never be filled in. I think what you do every year keeps him 'here' and 'present' with the world. Does his family know about this gesture? I'm sure they would be touched. Honoring all servicemen is important. Interesting that Henry was shot down on Easter, so was my great great uncle Joseph whom I just discovered.

Jennifer said...

Thank you for this very touching post. A childhood friend of mine is serving in Iraq right now and even though we had lost touch since high school I still worry about him and pray he comes home safe to his family. I very much respect your Veterans Day tradition because just remembering our soldiers and those lost says so much. We should never take their sacrifice for granted or forget it. It really moves me that you kept the bracelet and the letter and knowing that brave veteran has not been forgotten, I am sure it would mean a great deal to his family as well. Good for you!

Peg @ Bloomfield Farm said...

What a lovely post about a very special tradition on Veterans' Day. I'm sure all our troops would appreciate the fact that you have continued to remember this brave man.

Laura ~Peach~ said...

i remember the bracelets i was pretty young but... still remember seeing people with them. I wanted one... never got one.
STILL think about those who are MIA.
hugssssss

Madeline's Album said...

This post brought tears to my eyes. The veterans who fought in this terrible war Vietnam were treated so badly when they came home. It made me feel so bad for them. I respect every veteran that has fought for our freedom and pray and honor each one. God bless you for honoring this lost service man. Have a blessed day. Madeline

Paxie Panicker said...

I remember the bracelets too. MIA is so much more difficult to accept than death. This is a wonderful tradition to have for Veteran's Day and to know that you have found a special way to honor a fallen Airman.

As a child, even knowing that my father died in the plane crash, I still was hoping one day he'd walk in the door. I can't imagine how Major Serex's daughters felt, but I have an idea...

Threads of Inspiration said...

Thank you for this poignant post, I remember the bracelets, although I was quite young during the war. Thank you also, for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment.

Charming Baglady said...

This is something you and I have not talked about. I WAS at Berkeley during the protests. I worked the police command center during the “stop the draft” demonstrations. I think your assessment of the demonstaters is right-on. I am so proud of you that you wore the bracelet. Your Memorial Day/Veterans’ Day tradition is lovely. I also wore a bracelet and eventually it was put away in my jewelry box but the memory of “my” soldier was always with me. Then, one day after computers were born, I found he web site you refer to, which included an address to write to where you could find the status of the person named on your bracelet. After years as a POW, my soldier had made it home! I sent his bracelet to him, with a short letter, and received a short note in return. It’s funny that I can no longer remember his name (in those days I never thought about saving correspondence) but I think of him often. He told me that he had suffered only minor physical injuries, for which I was grateful on his behalf. But I have always wondered what the toll was he paid in emotional damage. ~Dawn

Reddirt Woman said...

How we all remember that time in our lives. I had friends that I went to school with that served and were fortunate to come home again. I think that MIA's are the most difficult to deal with whether someone knows them or not because there is a hole, a gap, a missing link in the fabric of all of our lives. Who knows who they would have touched in their life time had they not been lost...

Wonderful post.

((((((Hugs)))))))

Chef E said...

My mom had one too, and eventually he was found and came to visit us. He seemed awkward, and now that I know more about how the PTSD affects them, especially the Vietnam war. I too hope they one day can have closure...thanks for posting this; it gives me another memory to capture in my poetry...A BIG Thanks!