Ann-Margaret and Her
Viet Nam 1966
This is a story about a Viet Nam vet and Ann
Margaret as told by the vet's wife.
Richard, (my husband), never really talked a lot
about his time in Viet Nam other than he had been shot by a sniper. However, he
had a rather grainy, 8 x 10 black and white photo he had taken at a USO show of
Ann-Margaret with Bob Hope in the background that was one of his treasures. A
few years ago, Ann-Margaret was doing a book signing at a local bookstore.
Richard wanted to see if he could get her to sign the treasured photo so he
arrived at the bookstore at 12 o'clock for the 7:30 signing. When I got there
after work, the line went all the way around the bookstore, circled the parking
lot and disappeared behind a parking garage. Before
her appearance, bookstore employees announced that she would sign only her book
and no memorabilia would be permitted. Richard was disappointed, but wanted to
show her the photo and let her know how much
those shows meant to lonely GI's so far from home. Ann-Margaret came
out looking as beautiful as ever and, as second in line, it was soon Richard's
turn. He presented the book for her signature and then took out the photo. When
he did, there were many shouts from the employees that she would not sign it.
Richard said, "I understand. I just wanted her to see it."
She took one look at the photo, tears welled up in her eyes and she said,
"This is one of my gentlemen from Viet Nam and I most certainly will sign
his photo. I know what these men did for their country and I always
have time for 'my gentlemen.'" With
that, she pulled Richard across the table and planted a big kiss on him. She
then made quite a to-do about the bravery of the young men she met over the
years, how much she admired them, and how much she appreciated them. There
weren't too many dry eyes among those close enough to hear. She then
posed for pictures and acted as if he was the only one there.
Later at dinner, Richard was very quiet. When
I asked if he'd like to talk about it, my big strong husband broke down in
tears. "That's the first time anyone ever thanked me for my time
in Viet Nam," he said. That night was a turning point for him. He
walked a little straighter and, for the first time in years, was proud to have
been a Vet. I'll never forget Ann-Margaret for her graciousness and
how much that small act of kindness meant to my husband. I now make it a point
to say "Thank you" to every person I come across who served in our
Armed Forces. Freedom does not come cheap and I am grateful for all
those who have served their country.
If you'd like to pass on this story, feel free to do
so.. Perhaps it will help others to become aware of how important it is to
acknowledge the contribution our service people make.
With global circulation ... this may even reach
Kerry and Fonda!