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Arts & Culture

In the Spirit of Medicine

Howard Ignatius

Did I properly honor his sacrifice?

I'’m not sure if he enlisted or was drafted, but he went to Vietnam. He used his wages and got me into a record club and chose the records for me from Vietnam, somehow. I never really knew what was going to show up, but much of what I listen to is from those records.

He sent me a green satin jacket with a map of Vietnam embroidered in red on it. I wore it proudly to school and wore it until it was full of holes. He sent me binoculars and a hunting knife from Vietnam.

And he sent letters. He was a door gunner in a helicopter and was basically a flying target. His letters became darker and angrier and I didn'’t know how to take many of them. He was spit on by protesters when he came back from Vietnam.

In the Spirit of Medicine features the essays of Dr. Arne Vainio, an enrolled member of the Mille Lacs  Band of Ojibwe and a family practice doctor on the Fond Du Lac reservation in Cloquet.

His essays on life, work, medicine, and spirit are published at Indianz.com.

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