Happy Memorial Day!
Today is not only Memorial Day – a day where we honor those brave men and women who gave their lives in serve to our country, but also today would have been my momma’s 66th birthday. And the fact is, although totally explaining how she died is a bit complicated, the fact remains, she died because of her service to our country. The disease she battled for so many years was due to her exposure to chemicals while serving in the Vietnam War – it just happened to take her life 30 years after she returned home.
As much as I’ve mentioned how much my mother meant to me, I have truly done a disservice to her service of this country and all that she did for women veterans.
My mom served as an Army surgical nurse in the Vietnam War from 1969-1970. She was stationed at the 71st Evac Hospital in Pleiku, Vietnam.
In 1983, she wrote a book called Home Before Morning, an autobiography that chronicled her time in Vietnam. It was the first book of it’s kind written by a woman veteran. The book was actually the inspiration for the television series China Beach.
She was the founding executive director of the Women’s Project of the Vietnam Veterans of America from 1979 to 1984 – even testifying before congress on behalf of the over 7,400+ women Vietnam veterans. She continued to fight, until the day she died, for the rights, recognition, and benefits of women veterans.
She was truly a pioneer and someone who just didn’t take no for an answer. She refused to let her illness define her, beat her, or control her.
My mom was truly an American hero – even though if she were here today, she’d just say she was doing her job.
So, on this Memorial Day and what would have been her 66th birthday, I’m honoring my incredibly brave mama.
Happy Birthday, Mom – thank you for serving our country and thank you for being my hero.
Lynda Van Devanter Buckley – May 27th, 1947 – November 15, 2002.