tisdag 24 februari 2009
Some day this hill will be burned by napalm
20 Oct 66
Dear Aunt Fannie,
This morning one of my men turned to me and pointed at a plant with soft red flowers and said: “That is the first plant I have seen today which didn’t have thorns on it.” The plant and the hill upon which it grew was also representative of Vietnam…It is a country of thorns and cuts, of guns and marauding, of little hope and of great failure, yet in the midst of it all, a beautiful thought, gesture, and even person can arise among it waving bravely at death. Some day this hill will be burned by napalm, and the red flower will crackle up and die among the thorns. So what was the use of living and being a beauty among the beasts, if it must, in the end, die because of them, and with them? You are what you are, what you are. Whether you believe in God, fate, or the crumbling cookie elements are so mixed in a being that make him what he is: his salvation from the thorns around him lies in the fact that he existed at all, in his very own personality….The flower will always live in the memory of a Marine, but even if we had never gone on that hill, it would still be a soft, red, thornless flower growing among the cutting, scratching plants, and that in itself is its own reward.
2Lt Marion Lee (“Sandy”) Kempner, born in 1942 in Galveston, Texas, was a platoon leader with Company M, 3rd Battalion, 7th Regiment, 1st Marine Division, operating in I Corps. He arrived in Vietnam in July 1966. Four months later, on 11 November, Sandy Kempner was killed by shrapnel from a mine explosion near Tien Phu. He was 24 years old.