First in Lodi, then Paso Robles and now in Stockton, this is the third time I've visited the Moving Wall memorial to all servicemen and women who lost their lives in Vietnam. But for a twist of Providence, my name might have been etched on it as well.
My student deferment was replaced with a 1-A classification in 1967, while I was in my third year at the University of Texas El Paso. I chose to enlist instead and tested at Fort Bliss. A knee that locked up on me periodically warranted a 4-F reclassification after x-rays. Life would go on without visiting the shores of Vietnam.
But many classmates would take that journey, including my brother, Marty. Everyone would experience the culture shock. Many would see combat. And too many would be killed or wounded. Lives forever changed. Stories never told.
So this 'almost veteran' is announcing that this day, June 1, is Hug a Vet Day. And if you can't hug one, pray for one.