By Robin Daniel
When Libby Wilson and I began working with Sid Orr on his 2nd CD, Vietnam: The Journey Continues, we found that our understanding of the Vietnam War, and the veteran’s experience, was limited and inaccurate. As we immersed ourselves in the songs, we had long and difficult conversations. We are eternally thankful to Sid who was willing to walk us through that time with him. We learned that every war is unique, and no one comes home unharmed.
While we were collaborating on the songs, we met an amazing woman, Sanfora DiMilo, at her home in Ellijay, Georgia, where we sat in her den and talked for hours. Sanfora was a nurse working with the first Vietnam veterans coming home in 1965. She told us about her “warriors” and the groundbreaking work on PTSD they spearheaded. She shared her experiences as she shaped her career around helping these veterans. As we prepared to leave, we asked, “If you could give one message to the Vietnam veterans and their families, what would it be?” She said “There is hope, and you are not alone.”
After completing the other songs on the CD, we began writing “You’re Not Alone!” We had pages and pages of thoughts, emotions, messages. We tapped into Sid’s and other Vietnam Veterans’ memories of coming home. Unlike any other group of veterans in history, the Vietnam Veterans came home to a country that was angry, and many took out their anger on the returning Vets. They suffered in silence for many years. It wasn’t until many years later Sid remembers walking in a Veteran’s Day parade in the 1990’s, 20 years after returning home, and a woman on a street corner mouthed the words “Thank you. Welcome home.” It was then he realized this was the first time he been welcomed home from Vietnam.
With so much we wanted to express, we struggled with the song for weeks. Then one day it just happened. Sid said, “We are writing this for the warriors,” and distilled the totality of feelings and messages into “You’re Not Alone” ending with “
Oh There’s hope,
there’s always hope,
Oh There’s hope,
there’s always hope, Welcome home