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Name on a Bracelet
When I was in high school, 9/11 happened. I was in Mr. Teitz’s Humanities class when it seemed the whole world stopped. Nothing was done. The televisions were on. People who had family members in New York City went through every mix of novinas possible. This was beyond awful. As the skyline of New York has never been the same, it is now a memorial similar to that of Pearl Harbor. As a New Yorker I have been down there a handful of times. I don’t like the trip. I feel in a way I am playing on the graves, the remains if you will, of innocent people.
Two weeks after 9/11 was my seventeenth birthday. My brother Wendell got me this bracelet in a small plastic bag. He said that because everyone was feeling patriotic, this was the perfect gift. I asked him what it was. He said the ROTC man, a rare site at Brown, was giving them away. Wendell was nineteen to my seventeen. We were both brainless, and this was the most thoughtful we got. It had a name on it. Inscribed on the copper bracelet was Antonio R. Sandoval, Marine, PFC, San Antonio, Texas. That is when my mother explained that this was bague or rose et strass a POW bracelet. I asked her what it was. She said a POW bracelet was something you wore when someone was POW/MIA and this was to let the soldier know someone cared about them back home. You were to wear this until they bague or blanc avec saphir returned in person or otherwise. I say the word otherwise because my mother was quick to explain most of the time they were never found, or if they were they traveled home in a box. My mom told me she wore a POW/MIA bracelet and lost hers during swim practice. As far as she knew, her guy was never recovered.
I asked my mom if she thought Antonio R. Sandoval was still alive. For years there had been talk that there were still some POW/MIA vets left in the jungle by the selfish, rich, white US government to bague or noir femme rot. After all, it had been the plot of Rambo II. We had arrogantly run into a mess we had no business in, and when agent orange failed we were running out. Plus there were supposedly documents that Nixon sold out those POWs in order to cover collateral damage. My mom, I remember, simply looked down. Like many in her generation she saw how Vietnam ripped families apart, either by having a teenage son killed or by having a son come back and be such a tortured bague diamant hsi mess that no psych med could cure him. Oh, and unlike World War I or II these men were not treated as heroes but killers. My mom just looked down, was silent for a minute and said, « Baby, he’s probably dead. And his body is probably blown up. That’s why they haven’t found him. »
I remember telling my mom that was horrible. My mom said, « Yeah, I can only imagine how heartbroken his poor mother is. »
During that time monture bague diamant poire in my hometown everyone was especially Patriotic. The attitude was very hawk like. Several of my high school classmates wanted to enlist to « blow up some towel heads. » While the educated people knew we had no business in Iraq, America was angry. Bush declared a war on terror. We wanted to see bague or pierre rose blood it seemed. Realistically, this ironically is turning into Vietnam minus the draft. But still, I was a tad angry myself. A tad angry people doing what they were supposed to do were wiped out by evil men with an agenda. So I wore the bracelet.
People thought it was pretty cool I was wearing a bracelet. They asked all sorts of questions about my adopted POW/MIA. I did the math because on the back of the bracelet it had his birthday. He was born March 4, bague or rose et topaze 1956. He disappeared in May of 1975 in one of the final incidents of the war. This would have made him bague or blanc et topaze nineteen years old. He was my brother Wendell’s age. Nineteen, a baby’s brain and an adult body. A deadly combination of stupidity and ego. While you could make adult decisions, the state could stick a needle in your arm and you could die for your country. I thought about it. Wendell was nineteen. My brother had his moments. Not to mention I was seventeen. This kid probably went from talking about cars and girls to looking over his shoulder in the jungle, Dear God. Not that Private Sandoval was vendre bague diamant marseille stupid, but looking back nineteen was a dangerous age. I am amazed I got out of that time in my life in one piece and I wasn’t even in a war.
Ironically, when you see the picture of Iwo Jima, the men holding up acheter bague diamant anvers the flag are probably eighteen or nineteen at most. Same with the guys in the trenches in Europe. Same with the guys who fought at Midway. Same with World War I. Same with the Civil War and the American Revolution. On one hand, while nineteen might be a nutty age, on the other hand, perhaps America doesnt give it’s young people enough credit. Especially the men and women who serve. The poor thing was doing something big, something huge. He was just a kid. Sadly, so were many of his so bague or jaune emeraude called enemies. It is documented Ho Chi Minh had any able bodies man, old and young, in his army. The bulk of the NVA was probably nineteen years of age as well. It’s never the old men in tents that get killed. It’s bague or rose prix the young men viewed as in their pink and physical prime, but also disposable.
From what I gather, Sandoval was on a rescue mission to aid the troops SS Mayaguez over the waters in Cambodia when his helicopter was shot down. The body was never recovered. For a while, from what I read, that Cambodia possessed the remains of many servicemen and offered to return them, bague diamant cdiscount but because the US refused to recognize their government. I read that finally, in the year 2000, bone fragments from Private Sandoval were sent to San Antonio, Texas where he was from and buried in Sam Houston National Cemetery. I could only imagine the relief his family must have felt. While he was returned home, I still wore his name on my wrist in a patriotic gesture. At the time I wrote for my local hometown paper in the youth section. I published an article where I spoke of my adopted POW/MIA. My mother mentioned someday I needed to find his mother and perhaps send that to her. My mom knew, from mother to mother, she could appreciate it. I also think my mom empathized. When my brother didnt call home for two days she lost her mind. Imagine spending years not knowing where your child was.
I wore the bracelet for two more years until moving to New York. During an acting class, I was made to take my jewelry off and never put it back on. It was just easier. I don’t know where the bracelet went, but I know I probably have it somewhere. Over time, my POW/MIA became a mere memory. I was busy with college, comedy, ventriloquism, writing, and chasing crazy men.
Then of course my early twenties were spent chasing stage time, and then I had adventures that were televised and then I wrote a book. For much of Bush’s tenure many of my sentiments were openly anti war. However, when I was on television I got fan mail from many of the troops. So even though I was against the war, I always, always support our soldiers no matter what.
I thought of Private Sandoval last week for some odd reason. Maybe it was Memorial Day. I googled him, not that there was supposed to be anything new. But sometimes I am wrong, and this was one of the cases that I was. There had been more remains identified from the SS Mayaguez mission, and the government had given them a burial of full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery. Private Sandoval joined the rest of his men on the mission and was given a heroes sendoff. The crazy thing was, it had happened that week. My mouth dropped open. What are the odds I google my POW/MIA out of the blue, and there are more updates on the dude. Wowsa.
I also read an article on Private Sandoval. Known as Tony to his friends and family,he was the oldest son in a set of four children. Private Sandoval’s father had abandoned the family when he was young, so from a young age he stepped up and took on the father role to his younger siblings. When he was in high school, he dropped out before completion to join the Marines. This was because his single mother was struggling and he wanted to help her out with the finances. When he prix bague or wrote his grosse bague or femme family he seldom complained. However his regret was during evacuations he had to leave innocent Vietnamese children behind. In his last letter to his mother, he wrote, « Mom, I am okay. » While declared MIA, his mother never bague or moderne gave up hope he was alive. Fragments from his femur were returned to the US in 2000 and buried in Sam Houston National Cemetery, giving his poor mother some closure before she died in 2009. The name on my bracelet became a real person. This was someone who was the epitome of what it was to be a true hero. These days we throw the word around so blithely. A hero is someone who not only does the right thing, but serves something bigger than themselves with complete and utter humility. I cannot speak for the others on the mission lost because I am not as familiar with them, but this young man was completely selfless. While Private Sandoval’s time on the planet was short, he made every year he was given count. Maybe he never lived to have a family of his own, but he died supporting his family and on a mission to save other brothers, fathers, and sons. Most of America may never be familiar with his name, in a society overshadowed by tabloid trash, Private Sandoval is someone we should all emulate. I am by no means bague or perle de culture saying go to war, but know that the world does not always revolve around you and your needs. That your purpose on this Earth is to be of service to others. While not old enough to drink bague or et argent in any bague diamant 20 carats bar and still a bague or rose quartz fume teenager, Private Sandoval knew this. Therefore not only was he beyond his years but light years beyond his lifetime. I am both honored and humbled to say he was my adopted POW/MIA.
Since 2000, more of Private Sandoval’s remains have been found. Same with the last of the remains from those on his mission. They were laid to rest as a group in Arlington. In a way it is ironic that a Spanish kid raised by a single mother lays in the backyard of a former slave owner, Robert E. Lee. However, Lee knew what it was to lose someone who cared about in a war. He probably had friends who were killed in battle never to be found. Not to mention since then war hero’s of all colors have been buried in Arlington, proving valor has no race, gender, or religious affiliation. Private Sandoval, a young man who’s life was about service, now rests for eternity in good company. This made me happy for his surviving relatives, but most importantly for Private Sandoval himself. His hard work and sacrifice were finally rewarded, and he was getting the honor he deserved. This past week there had been discord in book land. In my journey to literary superstardom, I had become the center of my own universe. The world had become more about me and less about the needs of others. Because I believed the world was treating me unfairly, I was stomping my feet in my world bague or oxyde de zirconium of a self centered pity party. Translated, I was taking myself way too seriously. Maybe, just maybe, the spirit of the nineteen year old Marine I wore on my wrist was sending me a message. That one, it’s not all about me so stop being a brat. Secondly, however, that one can get the wonderful gifts the universe bestows on them, just not on their clock sometimes. When these gifts come in their own bague or pas cher femme time, they are nothing short of wonderful. It is important though, that with hard work things will happen. So just to hang in there. Also, to just keep it green and live in gratitude every day. And lastly, I think his spirit wanted me to know he had come home and was finally resting in peace.
Or maybe it was just a strange coincidence. Being a skeptical scholar and a spiritual woman in the same body, I will leave room for either explanation. Either way, I think if I ever find myself in DC I will take a trip to Arlington. Not just to say hello, but to say thank you for your service.
However, I think Private Sandoval is in heaven. When I was a kid in Sunday school, we were learning about the commandments. Some people asked about where soldiers went when they died. My teacher bague or jaune saphir bleu explained there was a special part of heaven for them. We call it heaven, the Vikings call it Valhalla. Whatever it is called, Private Sandoval is probably there. He is eternally nineteen, forever young and never doomed to a gray hair or wrinkle. The powers that be probably gave him a fast car and a hot babe to go with it. (After all, when you are that age for the rest of time that’s what you kind of dig.) He is probably driving around having a great time. That is, of course, right after he gets the big hug and home cooked meal his mother was never able bague or rose diamant to give him after the war was over…