9 Apr 2004
Once upon a time, back when I was only two,
my dad was alive and the world seemed so true.
When I was 18 months old he had to go away -
to serve his country in a land far away.
There was a war going on,
they called it Viet-nam.
For me all I knew was my daddy was gone.
I missed him a lot and I could hardly wait,
for the day he would return,
but April 14th brought another fate.
Two months before retirement from a military career,
two months before I could hug him and hold him near,
my mother got a phone call and a letter that said,
"We regret to inform you that your husband is dead".
Our world was shattered, we were left in a daze.
Just like a bad dream that wouldn't go away.
So there sat my mother with nine children by her side,
waiting for a box to arrive so we could say goodbye.
The box, it came, and in it was my dad.
Now emptiness and sadness are all that we have.
The day of his funeral I wasn't allowed to go.
I had to stay with a babysitter that lived just down the road.
I remember being angry and very upset,
I didn't want to stay there or play on their swing-set.
I already knew that my daddy was coming home,
so it made no sense that I had to stay there all alone.
My sister was there with me too at the start,
but she managed to run away,
determined to make it there with all her heart.
I think I was about five when reality set in,
and I finally knew I wouldnt see him again.
I fully realized what death meant,
and I grasped fully the heartache I've carried with me ever since.
So many times I've needed my dad and wished he was here.
So many times I've wanted to hold him near.
I don't remember what it's like to feel his touch,
what it felt like to kiss him and give him a hug.
I don't remember his face or the curve of his grin.
All I have are pictures to remember him.
Yes a picture captures a moment in time, but
it's not the same as closing my eyes and seeing it in my mind.
Now I am a grown woman with kids of my own,
and the sorrow that I carry only continues to grow.
I am no longer the only one that never got the chance to know my dad.
There are grandchildren now that will never get to hold his hand.
So the legacy of pain and loss continues to go on,
and the void grows only stronger as the years and time roll on.
In my heart he is here with me and there he will always stay.
Tucked away deep down inside until my dying day.
So now you've heard my story and I hope a part of it with YOU will stay.
Perhaps I've brought it home to you and made you feel my pain.
Perhaps the next time any of you happen to visit The Wall,
you will realize they are NOT just names and
you will understand the depth of it all.
Realize that each name on there was a person,
and there is a story to tell.
And real lives are STILL being affected and they always will.
Viet-nam was not a war that only existed in the past.
For so many of us it's never ended,
and the pain will always last.
I hope you've gained some insight and understanding of it all,
and that you now know what it feels like to have a father on the Wall.
by Ann MacDougal Points
In memory of my father
Master Sergeant James H. MacDougal
I LOVE YOU AND MISS YOU DAD!!!
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