Cumberland Times-News

Letters

March 31, 2013

He never had a chance, and neither did she

It never ends. Agent Orange destroys everything in its shadow. I was told once “Kelly, I’m sorry, but your father never had a chance.”

He died only one month after turning 37 in 1982. I was the 7-year-old, only child, he left behind. It appears to me now that I never had a chance either.

Recently, a University of Oregon student was interviewing me about Agent Orange for an assignment. She asked one final question, “What aspect of your childhood did Agent Orange have the most impact?”

The painful memory that formed my answer flashed in front of me. My father died when I was in second grade, one day on the bus going home from school, a girl started arguing with me.

As the bus began to make its turn to my stop, I began moving to the front so that I could get off and escape her harassment. I didn’t know in the 10 seconds to follow that turn, I would want to run for my life and never stop.

The last words that came from my tormentor’s mouth would pierce my eardrums for the rest of my life, “Hey Kelly, at least I still have a father.”

 I answered my interviewer question solemnly, “in every way, shape, and form of my childhood, my father’s death is what impacted me the most in regards to Agent Orange.”

Life events like graduating high school, college, my first job, and my wedding all missed an important piece of the puzzle, my father. Every choice, every decision, every twist, every turn, every illness, every fear, every tear, every relationship, were affected.

There’s nothing, not one moment, of my life that hasn’t been impacted by Agent Orange and the death of my father.

 I’m tired, I’m angry, I’m sick , and at age 38 and I’m fighting a physical war with my own body everyday because of my father’s Agent Orange exposure.

Long after the protests, boots on the ground, and clearing of the jungles have ended, I am still fighting the Vietnam War.

Agent Orange, the defoliant used to clear the jungles of Vietnam so our soldiers could have an “advantage over the enemy”, is continuing to destroy the lives of hundreds of thousands of children of Vietnam Veterans like me.

 In my father’s obituary, he is as quoted as saying, he knew he had a bomb ticking inside of him.

He knew the bomb was Agent Orange. He knew. I know. We all know.

Millions of us know all over the world and yet, until the United States Government publicly states they knew, and take responsibility, we will continue spinning on this never ending hamster wheel of life, the life of Agent Orange.

 I co-founded the organization (COVVHA) Children of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance Inc., with Heather A. Bowser, also a child of a deceased Vietnam Veteran.

We will never stop fighting for the millions of us that are sick and dying because of Agent Orange and Dioxin exposure.

There are veterans, their children like me, and the innocent all over this world who have been affected by this nightmare. We suffer unacknowledged, without support watching our loved ones die.

Agent Orange is a colorless, silent, ruthless killer. It is by every definition of the word, a murderer, a serial killer.

In essence, those of us still living are walking crime scenes.

I maybe a walking, breathing human being but, Agent Orange murdered the very best of me on Oct. 14, 1982, the same date it murdered my father, Harry C. Mackel Jr.

Kelly L. Derricks

(COVVHA) Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance Inc.

Langhorne, Pa.

1
Text Only
Letters
  • Translations differ, but the message is eternal

    This letter is in response to a recent letter titled “One cannot compromise on God’s word” (April 13 Times-News). I had previously written a letter titled “Why are compromises so difficult to achieve” (April 7).

    April 15, 2014

  • Closing the loopholes will help clear the regulatory waters

    After a decade of uncertainty over Clean Water Act jurisdiction following Supreme Court challenges in 2001 and 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers announced a forthcoming administrative rule to close enforcement loopholes, restoring protections to 20 million acres of wetlands, more than half the nation’s streams, and drinking water for 117 million Americans.

    April 15, 2014

  • The first step Remember where your freedom comes from before criticizing

    The deal at Fort Hood could have been avoided if it was caught in time.
    When you think a GI is not acting right, have him or her checked out before you put them back on duty and give them a weapon. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious and dangerous problem if it is not taken care of right away.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Midterm elections give chance to return to American values

    A movement has been started by veterans of our armed forces to get out the vote in 2014. That includes Coast Guard and Merchant Marine personnel for those not familiar with the history of both and their sacrifice. This is no small special interest  group, but many millions of Americans who can have an enormous impact on the  outcome of the November election if they all respond.

    April 14, 2014

  • Military veterans have few friends in Washington, D.C.

    Our legislators in Washington must stop playing politics with our veterans, this is  especially true of Vietnam war veterans. Will the game playing carry over to our veterans of present day wars? Will they too become pawns? Veterans have few friends in Washington. Just like the Vietnam veterans, today’s veterans will face
    what we are up against, little to no support.

    April 13, 2014

  • One cannot compromise on God’s word

    A recent letter asked, “What is it about compromises that seem so undesirable?” Most of us are familiar with John 3:16, which says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” The next verse goes on to say, “For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him”

    April 13, 2014

  • Ballpark project a partnership, not a government handout

    To the Editor:
    Regarding Mark Nelson’s recent objection to county government assistance to exploring the placement of a minor league baseball team in the Cumberland region, I would answer that the project should be considered a partnership between private enterprise and government. The private support would come by way of donations collected from local citizens, currently banked through the Dapper Dan Club.

    April 13, 2014

  • Group wants status quo on Sunday hunting

    Many Maryland residents have grown very concerned about two legislative bills that are arriving on the desk of Gov. Martin O’Malley after being approved by both the Senate and House chambers this session. With the governor’s possible signature of these bills into law, hunting would be allowed on certain state lands on Sundays — a day in the past reserved for rest and non-hunters to enjoy public lands.

    April 10, 2014

  • New policies will grow better streamside buffers

    Well-functioning forest buffers along streams are perhaps the most effective and least costly best management practice we have to restore the Chesapeake Bay.

    April 10, 2014

  • City has changed, but it’s still a great place

    Is it better to be positive or negative? I have been reading postings about Growing Up in Cumberland, other Facebook pages, and from many of my Facebook friends. Talk about food and many people have positive comments. I love Coney Island hot dogs as much as anyone and have some every time I am in Cumberland.

    April 9, 2014

Latest news
Facebook
Must Read
House Ads