|Tommy Capps, Finalist American Hero of the Year|
Independence Day is a time for Americans to take stock of their freedom and think about the human sacrifice that has given it to us. As far as unpopular wars, the Vietnam War has to be at the top of the list. We were a country divided, and the very people who risked their lives to fight for our country were not given a heroes’ welcome when they returned home.
For the first time, war was brought into American homes on the news each day. Even the blood and gore we saw on TV didn’t do justice to the reality of being in a jungle with no way to tell friend from foe.
The Wall in Washington D.C. lists the names of 58,272 people who lost their lives in Vietnam. Others came home injured in body, and countless others came home with shattered spirit. Vietnam veterans became a stereotype, and Jim would often turn a TV show off in disgust saying, “Another crazed Vietnam veteran is the killer.” Hollywood’s idea of a Vietnam veteran was of a trained killer, not a young man who was drafted into jungle warfare against an invisible enemy.
When my eighteen-year-old brother Tommy was drafted and sent to Vietnam, we were all scared for what he would be facing, but my mother was terrified. Three months after his tour of duty began, I woke up one night to hear voices and my mother crying and I knew it had to be about Tommy. I kept thinking, he can’t be dead or I would feel it. I finally realized he had been wounded and was in the states.
Recently, my sister-in-law nominated Tommy for the American Hero of the Year award. This time, the phone call was good news when my brother found out he was a finalist for Hero of the Year when he didn’t even know he had been nominated.
Tommy has shown courage his entire life. After Vietnam he returned to high school and graduated the same year I did. He was a positive influence on the high school kids and I’m sure a lot of would-be dropouts continued their education. He worked in law enforcement as a deputy, chief of police, and detective. Eventually, he worked for the state of Missouri investigating child abuse cases. He was instrumental in sending 230 child abusers and pedophiles to prison. In a five-hundred word essay, Teresa only touched on a few of the highlights. Tommy’s family and friends could tell hundreds of stories about how he’s made his corner of the world better. How he’s been the one you could count on to always do the right thing—maybe not exactly what you asked for, but what you needed.
Tommy has been my hero for years, now America has a chance to make him their hero too. Go to the website http://militaryhero.com/vote and sign up for an account. Once you’ve signed up, sign in and vote once each day between now and August 6. Tommy is already a winner in the contest as well as life.
Copyright (c) July 2013 by L.S. Fisher