A Letter to Max

Korean War Memorial, Washington, D.C.

It was more years than I can remember that a Kalamazoo TV Station invited me to be a guest on their Memorial Day Program. I had no idea what to say but finally I just sat down and remembered some of what went on in Korea when I was there and I wrote this. I figured it was a miracle that I was alive and so grateful.

I met the producer and asked if he could show the Arlington Cemetery Grave markers and if he had a shot of troops in bunkers and if he might have a bugle call to open and close my remarks. He made it a wonderful production and as I left the studio, the lady there who ran the switchboard asked me what I’d done. They had so many calls that it crashed their system. A bit later my secretary sent it to the Purple Heart Magazine and they ran it. This happened over sixty one years ago but I can’t forget it.

A Letter to Max
© Art Fettig

Dear Max,

It’s Memorial Day and I’m thinking about Korea and about you, Max. You and those other G.I’s they carried off on liters from that damn, beat-up powder-topped hill we called Old Baldy. We were fighting so that the world would be safe for democracy. Maybe we did a lousy job of it Max, because people are still killing each other for the same reason.

Oh, I remember you Max. You didn’t talk much, but we spent every moment together, sitting in that stinkin’ bunker, through those long nights. We took turn on watch, putting our lives in each other’s hands for a couple of hours sleep.

Max, I remember how we went without food for two days because somebody screwed up in our supply lines. Finally, I got so disgusted that I crawled up to the Command Post. While I was there those rounds came in.
Later, when I went back to our bunker, I found you Max. You and that other guy I’d never known before. I guess he was just passing by when that barrage came in and he jumped into our hole and he met death there for me.

So I’m still here to remember you Max; you and that other guy and that beat up hill where we chose to meet the enemy and say, “Hold it! We’ve come to make this world safe for democracy.” They didn’t listen, Max, and they killed you.

Max, I’ve got the feeling that maybe we made that trip overseas in vain. That the place to make the world safe for democracy is right here and the time is right now. What we’ve really got to remember today is that war is hell and that death is real and what the world needs right now, Max, is love. Love and a lot more love. Not a lot of men running across oceans to make the world safe for democracy.

You didn’t say very much, Max, but I remember what you did say. It seemed pretty corny right then. You said, “Man must learn to love his fellow man.”

Max, it is finally beginning to make sense to me. Like you said, Max, Love is the answer.

Your buddy Art.

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