I turn 61 on the 25th of this month. Over the past year I have had some medical scares, a surgery, but nothing too serious, however it has made me more aware of my body, my health, and my life. As I reach this point in my life, I find that I do a great deal of re-examining of what I do, what I have done, whether I feel I have accomplished enough in my life, or if I have more to do. And, at this time of political upheaval and rebirth with our government, there is a great deal for me to look back over on, to see if I have helped, or hindered the things that are of great importance to me.
Please do not look at what I am about to say about my past actions as “ego”; I would never bring them up except to explain to you about what has caused me to reach this point in my life. My life, like everyone else’s, has been a mixture of good and bad, of hard and easy, but it has made me the man that I am, the man who has come to tears over the way our country is headed, because I have spent the last 26 years of my life doing what I could to get people to understand about the lack of honor, concern for the citizens of our country, honesty and integrity of our politicians, but no one wanted to listen because it was “too much trouble” to actually take a close look at what they did! Now, when the citizens of America have awakened to the evil in our government, I have found some satisfaction, but I can’t help but wonder if it is enough, and if it will last! I do not want to see us return to the problems we now have, but to end them, and rebuild our nation into the greatest free country this world has ever seen!
I grew up as the adopted son of two veterans, my mother was a WAC, of WWII, and I have always been surrounded by proud veterans who never held any doubt about the things they did to protect their country! My mother was a very violent woman when my sister and I were children, and she beat us and degraded us, and I used to run out into the woods with my best friend, my Collie, Lassie, to hide from her until she calmed down. I had no social confidence and was a solitary boy, who kept mostly to myself. When I was sixteen, my mother threw me out of the house, and I spent six months working at a grocery store to pay for my rent and food, and continued going to school, so that I could graduate. In January of 1967, the police forced me to return home to my family, as I was “too young”, by law, to be out on my own or, at least, that’s what they told me. My mother still had her anger, but she had lost her violent tendencies, so it was a bit easier, but I had found my freedom, and wanted to keep it, so I pre-enlisted in the Army, and went to Boot Camp on June 12th of that year. I was in Vietnam on January 6th, 1968, 2 months and 11 days after I turned 18. And it was there, through all the hell of Tet, of being under attack a lot, and flying 262 combat missions as a Crewchief on a Huey slick, with the 57th Assault Helicopter Company, that I learned to be a man, guided by the courage and honor of the men I had the distinct honor of having served with. When I came home, I had something that no one knew about back then, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, PTSD, and it screwed with my life on a daily basis. And it didn’t help that anti-war people spit on me, called me names, and pretty much treated me like an outsider, just as they did all my brothers from Vietnam. But it was learning to survive on my own, as a kid, then going through combat with men who were the best examples of courage I have ever known, that gave me what I needed to keep on going!
I got fed up with the lack of concern, by our government and people, for the many problems that ‘Nam vets were living with in the early ’80s, so I went to DC to demonstrate my anger by killing myself on the steps of the Capitol but, before I could, I found myself working for Veterans’ Rights, and the POW issue. I am extremely proud to know that it was my actions, and my brothers working on the same issues that got laws passed that keep our country from ever ending a war without accounting for every member of our military that served, to keep us from ever having unaccounted for troops again! At the same time, it is a matter of great pain and disappointment that we failed to bring home the remaining POWs from Vietnam, because our politicians were more concerned with covering their careers by leaving them there! I am proud to say that it was my own personal efforts that got the regulations changed on PTSD treatment, to keep vets from being locked up in Psych Wards for a problem that they could live with if given a chance! And I am proud that I am the one who forced the issue of the rights of veterans by forming a group of vets who forced their way into a State Funeral procession, the Burial of the “Unknown Vietnam Dead” soldier on Memorial Day of 1984, when we were told we would all be shot if we marched on the Capitol building. And all of these things I did I accomplished by fighting the government, doing everything I could to make good changes for the brave men who did only one thing; fight for their country! But the load of the corruption in DC made me leave in June of 1986, with a broken heart, and so much aggravation in my soul that I moved up into the mountains of West Virginia, as far away from people as I could get, because I couldn’t stand the lack of concern of the citizens of this great nation for the illegality of their government! After a year, I came back into society and continued my fight, because I couldn’t let Congress go unchecked!
Why did I tell you this? Because you need to know that I am not some “crackpot” out there simply trying to stir up trouble! And I want you to know why I am so damned proud of each and every one of you for doing what you are now! You have stood up to the government and told them that you won’t take it anymore! And I want to make sure that you keep on fighting it until we get our country back! I know, now, that I went through what I did because I could stand as a voice of experience with DC, to give you the truth of how we have been manipulated for far too long! So, please, from deep within my heart; I ask that you double your efforts to fight this corruption, that you set your hearts and minds on getting honest, true American leaders back into our government, that you stand against the “Open Borders” that put our country in danger, that you fight against the Illegals that trash our values and our economy, and that you fight with all your might against the Progressive movement that is working to destroy our great nation from the inside out! There are over 58,000 men who never returned home alive from Vietnam, who gave their lives so that you wouldn’t have to put your life and lifestyles at risk, so honor them and do what they cannot do now; BRING BACK TRUE FREEDOM FOR THE CITIZENS OF THIS GREAT COUNTRY! I am proud of you, you should be proud of yourselves, so stand up, make your voices and opinions heard, and make America the America we all remember once more!
STAND UP AMERICANS, OR LOSE AMERICA!
Michael J. Kilgus