A poem I wrote for an Agent Orange presentation.

He wakes in the morning.

He buttons up his uniform.

He’s going to war.

But first he will marry the woman he loves.

He arrives in country.

He does what is asked.

He’s proud to serve.

It’s hot, he’s scared & he misses his home.

He see’s horrible things.

He does horrible things.

He writes home.

Not telling the full truth that is war.

He makes it home.

He settles in to life.

He becomes a father.

Time marches on and his family grows.

Was it you who left him cracked but unbroken?

She is his oldest.

She gets married.

She has children.

Her family is everything.

She is diagnosed.

She leans on faith.

She battles her health.

The struggle leaves her tired.

She fights everyday.

She slaps on a smile.

She helps others.

This will not defeat her spirit.

She loves deeply.

She finds joy in others.

She refuses to stop.

Keeping her heart full, keeps her going.

Was it you who left her cracked but unbroken?

She is his middle child.

She brings laughter.

She loves learning.

This life will be great.

She gets sick.

She endures dialysis.

She has multiple transplants.

Her body is now her prison.

She loses hope.

She can’t bare it.

She is losing faith.

Her spirit has been crushed.

She puts things right.

She slowly says goodbye.

She died at 43.

Heaven is a lucky place.

Was it you who left her cracked but unbroken?

He is the youngest.

He skates.

He travels the world.

Enjoying all life has to offer.

He educates himself.

He gets married.

He runs marathons.

Balancing fun with healthy choices.

He battles celiac.

He avoids allergens.

He does what he loves.

His love for his children knows no bounds.

He gets tired.

He works hard.

He has lost a lot.

Despite it all, his love of life is inspiring.

Was it you who left him cracked but unbroken?

She is his wife.

She was there, waiting.

She raised his children.

When he dies her world collapses.

She sees her middle child weakened.

She helps her.

She is her best friend.

Her heart aches endlessly when she dies.

She worries about her oldest.

She worries about her youngest.

She worries about her grandkids.

Her prayers are for her family.

She perseveres.

She can do anything.

She is strong.

Her smile is a beacon of hope.

Was it you who left her cracked but unbroken?

He watches his babies grow.

He sees grandbabies born.

He is a true friend.

The war is so far in the past.

He gets weak.

He finds out this is it.

He surrounds himself with family.

Everyday could be his last and he doesn’t waste it.

He draws.

He writes.

He thanks.

His strength in his weakness is beautiful.

He falls asleep.

He is surrounded by love.

He takes his last breath.

The world has lost the most content man that ever lived.

Was it you who left him cracked but unbroken?

I am the oldest, he was my Dad, she was my sister. I miss them every day. I speak out, because their voices have been silenced forever. I give voice to those who can not.

Being chronically ill is like running in a race. Running to the point of exhaustion. Watching the rest of the runners cross the finish line. Then you look around and realize you never left the starting line.

I am weak, I am tired, but I want to know. If there is any way to be sure that our illnesses are because of Agent Orange. Is it altering genetics and was it passed on to us? Are we passing it on to our children? Will they pass it to their children? Can it be stopped?

Agent orange research must continue. We must know if this is linked and if it is, we must fight for a way to stop it.

It must end here. It must end now. We can not lose more lives if it can be stopped.

We have lost so much already.

This is not about compensation, this is about knowledge, this is about empowerment, this is about stopping the despair.

And so I ask;

Agent Orange Was It You, who left us cracked but unbroken?

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