Tag: Vietnam

Table for Two – Chapter 9

Table for Two – Chapter 9

T-Squared Energy Connections[i]

December 21, 1972 – The Wishing Tree

chapter-9-treeA live pine, dressed for the holidays, filled a corner inside Table for Two. Four Christmas’s ago, the year the restaurant opened, owners Sadie and Lucy started a tradition: a community wishing tree. Residents of all ages wrote wishes on tags and hung them on the tree during the week of Thanksgiving.  Everyone in town was encouraged to select someone else’s wish to fulfill.

On December twenty-first, the Monday before Christmas, Dean parked his Harley outside Table for Two in the exact spot he and his twin Dylan had parked their bikes, two and a half years earlier.

Dean glanced at the tree on his way to the counter to order coffee and a sandwich. Carol, the restaurant manager, tilted her head and squinted at Dean.

“Good afternoon. You look familiar. I don’t remember your name, but I never forget a face. Have you been here before?”

“As a matter of fact, I passed through Hartsburg a couple of years ago, with my twin brother, Dylan. We were touring the country before enlisting in the Air Force.”

“That’s right.  Is your brother with you?”

“Not exactly.” Dean patted his jacket packet. “Dylan didn’t come back from Vietnam, but he made me promise to revisit our favorite places, and leave a few ashes behind.”

“I’m so sorry about Dylan. I’m honored our tiny restaurant is on your list of places to visit.”

“The food was amazing, and lunch was free because our draft lottery number was below 195.”

“We didn’t give away too many lunches that summer. Today’s special is free dessert for anyone who selects a tag and makes a wish come true. What do you say?”

Coffee mug in his left hand, Dean read the wishes still on the tree. One caught his attention; he detached it and walked to the table as Carol placed his lunch down.

“Who is Tom Savino?”

“Tom grew up on a farm outside of town. Like you and Dylan, Tom served in Vietnam. He came back missing part of an arm and part of himself. He’s had a difficult time adjusting. Why do you ask?”

“I would like to make his wish come true. How can I get in touch with him?”

Dean drove his bike to Tom’s farm. Clutching Tom’s tag, Dean introduced himself.

“Is there someplace we can talk.? I’d like to connect you with my father; he’s part of a team specializing in prosthesis for veterans.  I believe he can make your dream come true.”

[i] T-Squared – In astrological charts the t-square configuration is a dynamic pattern that links and inter-locks energies. It can be seen in the major events, challenges, and themes that are encountered in life.
Table for Two – Chapter 8

Table for Two – Chapter 8

T-Squared Energy Connections[i]

July 2, 1971 – Coming Home

Author’s Note:  When I started this series of posts about people who grace a Table for Two, I had no idea where it would lead.  As we travel through the last fifty years, I feel it is important to address historical issues as they occurred.  Thank you, readers for taking this journey with me, wherever that might lead.

Tom Savino returned home from Vietnam to protesters and accusations of being a baby killer.  The transport plane carrying Tom and fellow soldiers taxied away from the main terminal after landing in the United States.  Ground crew directed the plane to a small service hangar to avoid disruptions to commercial flights.

Armed guards escorted the soldiers to military buses with darkened windows.  The loss of his left arm, just above his elbow made it difficult for Tom to shoulder his gear.  A guard hoisted Tom’s duffel, tossing it into the luggage compartment under the bus.

Twenty-four hours later, Tom arrived in Hartsburg.  A joyous contingent of family and friends greeted him at the bus station waving small American flags.  The smile on Tom’s mother’s face and the bear hug from his father helped, but the horrible acts of war he witnessed and committed overshadowed the excitement of coming home.

chapter-8-scone“Look at you Sara, no leg braces.  Love the cane; very fancy.  I ordered you a coffee and Independence Day Scone.  I hope that’s okay.”

“Sounds perfect!”  Grinning ear-to-ear, Sara hugged her cousin Stuart, joining him outside Table for Two.

“Two years of equine assisted therapy training did wonders for me.  I’ll always need a cane to help with balance, but no more hardware to lug around.  I’m so excited, Stuart.  I told you about the job I applied for at a Therapeutic Riding Center for the Handicapped in Michigan.  I start August first.  Can you believe it?”

“I didn’t know there was such a place till you told me you were applying for the job.”

“It opened last year and is the first of its kind in the U.S.”

“What about your dream to turn Gramps’ farm into a therapy farm?”

“That is still my dream.  I can’t think of a better way to learn how to make that happen.  I’ll get real-life experience and pick their brains on how to get started here.”

“Maybe I can visit you at the Center.  I have another year of graduate school at the University of Michigan.”

“I have something serious I want to discuss with you Sara.  The Fourth of July Parade Committee asked me lead the horse guard with you again.  I want to ride with the guard, but there is someone I believe deserves the honor of leading more than I do.  I spoke to the Parade Committee about Tom Savino taking my place.”

“Didn’t he just get home from Vietnam?”

“Tom arrived a couple of days ago; I went to his welcome home party.  He lost part of his left arm and is having a hard time adjusting to the mixed reactions people have about serving in Vietnam.”

“Tom didn’t start the war.  He stepped up and went when his number was called.  Maybe we shouldn’t be there; but people need to get a grip.  Taking out their frustrations on Tom is wrong.  It’s just wrong.”

“I agree, Sara.  I was lucky; being in graduate school kept me out of the draft.  If Tom is willing, I would like him to ride beside you.  A show of support and appreciation from the people of Hartsburg could go a long way toward making him feel like the hero he is.”

“Great idea, Stuart.  Have you talked to Tom about it?”

“Not yet.  I wanted to be sure the committee would back me on this.”

“A little equine therapy might help Tom too.  Let’s talk to him and make it happen.”

If you have never seen the Vietnam Memorial, I recommend you make the effort to visit the miniature version as it travels around the country.  I guarantee it will touch you on a visceral level.


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is defined as having flashbacks, upsetting memories, and anxiety following a traumatic event. It was first officially recognized as a mental health condition in 1980, only five years after the end of the Vietnam War. For hundreds of years, these symptoms have been described under different names in soldiers from many wars. However, Vietnam Veterans with these symptoms were the first to have the term ‘PTSD’ applied to them. Despite the passage of 50 years since the war, for some Vietnam Veterans, PTSD remains a chronic reality of everyday life. – See more at: Public Health VA [1]

A Few Statistics

Vietnam War – Casualties:[2]

United States: 58,119 killed, 153,303 wounded, 1,948 missing in action

South Vietnam: 230,000 killed and 1,169,763 wounded (estimated)

North Vietnam: 1,100,000 killed in action (estimated) and an unknown number of wounded

[1] http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/publications/agent-orange/agent-orange-summer-2015/nvvls.asp

[2] http://militaryhistory.about.com/od/vietnamwar/p/VietnamBrief.htm

[i] T-Squared – In astrological charts the t-square configuration is a dynamic pattern that links and inter-locks energies. It can be seen in the major events, challenges, and themes that are encountered in life.

Table for Two – Chapter 7

Table for Two – Chapter 7

T-Squared Energy Connections[i]

December 2, 1969 – The Lottery

Gladys and Jerry read the sign on the door as they walked into Table for Two.

Free Lunch for Lottery Numbers 1 to 195

Sitting outside, enjoying coffee and bagels, they discussed how the draft lottery might affect family, friends, neighbors and Hartsburg.

“I’m so glad I am not eligible for the draft lottery.  It was close.  Another year younger and my number would be 180.”

“I’m not sure who is happier, you or me,” Gladys reached across the table for Jerry’s hand. “Why a lottery, Jerry?”

“Before the lottery, any man between eighteen and 25 could be called to the local draft board for evaluation and assigned a status.  Community members make up draft boards.  Pressure from relatives and friends often influences who is exempted and who is not.  Turns out very few recruits come from wealthy families. As a matter of fact, I read the mix is twenty-five percent poor, fifty-five percent working-class and twenty percent middle-class men. Many come from rural towns and farming communities like Hartsburg.  A lottery is supposed to be more fair, or at least more random.”

3Nov1914TangaBattleWWIIn response to criticism of the draft’s inequities, on December 1, 1969, the Selective Service System conducted two lottery drawings – the first draft lottery since 1942, to determine the order in which men born in 1944 to 1950 were called to report for possible induction into the military in 1970.

The draft lottery was based on birth dates. Three-hundred sixty-six blue plastic capsules containing birth dates (including February 29) were drawn by hand, opened one by one and assigned a number from “001” until “366”. The first date drawn was September 14 followed by April 24, which were assigned “001” and “002” respectively. The process continued until each day of the year was assigned a lottery number. The lower the number, the higher probability men of being called to serve.

A second lottery was held with 26 letters of the alphabet to determine the order of selection among men with the same birth dates through the ranks of the first letters of their last, first and middle names. “J”, “G” and “D” were the first 3 letters while “E”, “B” and “V” was the last ones drawn, which meant men with initials “JJJ” would be first, followed by “JGJ” and “JDJ” while “VVV” would be last among those shared the same birth date. Eventually all men with number 195 or lower were called in order of their numbers to report for physical examinations in 1970.

The biggest change in this draft was the age priority. Instead of taking the “oldest men first” from the 18-25 eligible range as last time, local boards now could call 19-year-olds first. Therefore, young men now did not have to wait for years to learn their draft futures, which could affect their careers, marriages and family.

“What about our friends, Jerry?”

“Stuart Gibson will receive a deferral as a student at the University of Michigan.”

Tom Savino says he’ll serve if called.”

“Jimmy Kelly applied for conscientious objector status.  He wrote an essay to the county draft board and has an interview scheduled next week.  I hope it goes well for him.  Such a gentle soul, Jimmy has a hard time selling the family beef cattle for slaughter.  It’s hard to imagine him face to face with the enemy.”

“How difficult is it to be classified conscientious objector?”

“Not that easy.”

A conscientious objector is someone opposed to serving in the armed forces and/or bearing arms on the grounds of moral or religious principles There are two types.  One is opposed to serving in combat.  They would be drafted and assigned to military service not involving combat or weaponry.

The second type is morally opposed to serving the military in any capacity.  In the past, they were sentenced to two years in prison.  Draft boards can assign them to the alternative service program, run by the Selective Service System.  They work for two years with local employers in fields that contribute to the nation’s well-being such as health care, public service, education and conservation.


“Scary times to be nineteen.  Young men, boys really, asked to participate in the invasion of another country no one wants to call a war? Would you serve in the military, Jerry?”

“I don’t know, Gladys.  I suspect I would.  Fortunately, we don’t have to face that question.  I respect Jimmy for standing up for his beliefs.  We’ll have to support him just as we support those who serve.  It won’t be easy around here for him.  Not everyone will understand.”

chapter-7-hondaTwin brothers Dean and Dylan parked their matching red Honda Dream CB750 FOUR motorcycles outside Table for Two.

“Your sign says, free lunch for lottery numbers 195 and under.  I’m Dean, this is my brother Dylan.  Our number is ninety-seven.”

“Welcome Dean and Dylan.  I’m Carol, Manager of Table for Two.  Beautiful bikes, where are you headed?”

“We’re working our way across the country before we enlist in the Air Force.  There is so much to see.  We want to experience all we can so we’ll know what we are fighting for.”

“Would you be thinking of enlisting if your number was 360?”

“Probably not.  Our number is so low.  If we must serve, we prefer the branch of the military be our choice.”

“That makes sense.  What would you like for lunch?”

“A number nine, a number seven, two sodas, chips and two chocolate chip cookies.”

“Would you both sign the ‘Uncle Sam Wants You’ poster?” Carol pointed to the wall behind them.

Dean and Dylan sat outside eating their lunch.  Carol came out with a “to-go” bag.

“Here are some treats for later.  If you pass this way again, stop in and give us an update.”

“If what’s in this bag is as good as the cookies, we just won the lottery.”

[i] T-Squared – In astrological charts the t-square configuration is a dynamic pattern that links and inter-locks energies. It can be seen in the major events, challenges, and themes that are encountered in life.