A young friend of mine, who I will leave nameless for his own protection told me that he was the only one that reads my blog. I told him I was wondering who that was who showed up on my counter. Such is the life of a tormented writer - all you can do is hope that somebody reads your stuff. I don't want to say, you pray somebody reads your material, because that wouldn't sound right. Maybe I should use more big words, huh?
We made a journey to a place called Salt Lake City to watch our daughter and her softball team play ball in a National Indian tournament. They raised all of their expense money. I think that is great. Help yourself if you can, if you can't let the tribe pay for it. They did well for a first time facing this kind of competition. They ended up 2-2 for the tournament, but now they know what has to be done on their next trip. I enjoyed watching the games and it made me miss seeing our old team play.
I had to cut my trip short by a day. I came back to the rez to help with Joe Hale's funeral. Joe died at age 62.
I've known Joe and his boys for years. I watched his boys grow up and through his teachings, they picked up the songs fast. They are known as top of the line singers on the pow-wow circuit, but I remember them most for
helping us with the songs in our religion. That will be Joe Hale's legacy -teaching and passing along the traditions of our way of life.
In his earlier days, he went off to Vietnam as a member of the U.S. Marine Corp. During one encounter with the Viet Cong, He was hit in the upper left arm by rifle fire, and was stunned by the impact and was knocked to the ground, but survived. Joe said later that those were scary moments and was afraid to look at his arm because he felt like there was nothing there. That was in 1966. He was sent back to the United States after this incident, recuperated and finished out his service time. As fate would have it, Joe's brother Victor died in Vietnam in 1968 and his cousin Martin Jim, Jr died there in 1971.
It was a hard go for Joe for a good number of years, he had inner struggles that few can know and understand. His life was similar to the life of my brother Larry. Both left here young boys and the Vietnam war changed them into vastly different people. Thankfully, the inner struggles of seeing war,death and seeing their own blood flow in front of them leveled off in time, but both died fairly young. To me, that wasn't much of a reward for serving our country but we have little say in that department. Now the only thing left is the memory of knowing these good people. That is part of the cruel realities of life on an Indian reservation.