DeChristopher uses music to recognize role of women in Vietnam War

September 30, 2019  |  by Bonifas Arts Center
Listen to the interview with Joe DeChristopher, including the song he wrote

Joe DeChristopher took the experiences he had of the Vietnam War and wrote a song to honor the woman who served as nurses during the war.

He spent 16 months in Vietnam in the U.S. Army from 1965 to 67. During that time, he became aware of the sacrifices nurses made when he saw the reaction of a nurse confronted by a soldier who wanted to die.

“She was kind of shaken up so, I’m a friendly guy so I looked at her and smiled and I said, ‘you ok?’ She burst into tears and hugged me and she whispered in my ear, ‘I didn’t know it was going to be like this,’” recalled DeChristopher.

He discovered from a documentary several years ago that the names of eight nurses were on the Vietnam Wall. He did more research on the nurses and complied their stories into a song.

“I try to get commonalities of things that they had done when they were longer and their jobs, how they felt. I just didn’t know how to put it together. It was really hard to extrapolate all of that because there is so much information, so much emotion and so much, so much grief,” DeChristpher said.

DeChristopher performed the song for the first time Friday at the Bonifas Arts Center in Escanaba. He found writing the song to be cathartic.

Although eight names are on the wall, DeChristopher says 52 women died during the Vietnam War. He wants people to know that they gave their lives when they didn’t have to.

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