I, my whole family, thank you again for your appearance and performance at my son, Brian Carter’s, service at the Roseburg National Cemetery on July 11. You made a long, but certainly not thankless, trip from your home and back for that occasion. And, your selections and artistry with the pipes was appreciated by everyone. You helped set the tone of respect, solemnity, and depths of feelings of mingled love and grief-things very hard to bring together in any other way than through music-and the bagpipes are the most apt instrument in my view.
Brian was what I called a “tail ender” volunteer for Vietnam who did not see active combat but the war lashed out and took him down anyway. That is the way of wars and that one was one of the worst, when the American people got sick of it, and turned on their own soldiers. I did USVA exams on a lot of veterans for compensation and pension evaluations from that time who never recovered from the loss of their proud strong identity of being legitimate warriors and heroes, while, at the very same time, they were being wrongly redefined by very vocal protesters as "baby killers and losers".
These loud protests were a very lethal form of "friendly fire". Many of the young soldiers, who really had voluntarily shown up to go to war as defenders of our people and our country, but whose identity had not yet been baptized and solidified by exposure to enemy fire, were filled with a confused mixture of shame, impotent anger, guilt, and the strong sense of betrayal and abandonment. Many of these young soldiers, including my son, took these wrongs to heart at a critical time in their life and were never able to rebuild an identity that they could respect and, instead, lived lives of resentment, loneliness, depression, drugs and discord. That is why they need what you are giving so selflessly.
Here’s a salute of thanks from an old man who understands where you are coming from.