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Fortunate Son


Some folks are born made to wave the flag,
Ooh, they’re red, white, and blue. Yeah!

The year is 1969 and over half of the young men who graduated with me from high school last year are serving in Vietnam.  Everyone talks patriotism; everyone waves the flag, but the war in Vietnam is raging and not everyone gets drafted by the Selective Service.  

The fortunate ones get deferred or find a way to get deferred.  Unable to afford college and unwilling to marry and start a family at such a young age, those who do not qualify for a Selective Service System deferment are classified 1-A and get drafted. The Selective Service lives up to its name; it selects men mostly from the middle and the lower middle class.

It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no senator’s son, son.
It ain’t me, it ain’t me; I ain’t no fortunate one, no.

The following year, 1970, my brother is home from his “tour of duty.”  It sounds like spending a year of his life in Vietnam was a vacation; war is anything but. Many of his platoon are dead so everyone calls him the fortunate one. We all know better. The brother who left us will never be the same person who returned.

Some folks inherit star spangled eyes,
Ooh, they send you down to war, Lord.

The daily news runs the names of the fallen heroes, many boys I knew from school, the neighborhood, or church.  Too many are my cousins. All killed in action.

What do you think they thought about right before they died? 

Nothing?

A cuss word?

The Lord’s Prayer maybe or a plea for mercy and forgiveness?

Regret that they won’t be able to keep the promise they made their mamas or their girlfriends about coming home safe?

Hopefully, they knew how much they were loved and will be missed.

And when you ask them, “How much should we give?”
Ooh, they only answer, More! More! More! Yo!

Memorial Day honors all those who were killed in action while serving their country in the United States Armed Forces.  Remember them. Many of them were young men, barely in their twenties.


Don’t forget the fallen heroes.  Make them the true Fortunate Sons. 

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