Steve Mason (poet)

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Stephen R. Mason
Born (1940-02-29)February 29, 1940
Brooklyn, New York
Died May 25, 2005(2005-05-25) (aged 65)
Medford, Oregon
Occupation Army Captain, Poet, Author

Steve Mason (1940 in Brooklyn, New York – May 25, 2005) was a decorated United States Army captain, combat veteran of the Vietnam War, critically acclaimed poet and the Poet Laureate of the Vietnam Veterans of America. [1]


Mason's poem "The Wall Within" was read at the 1984 dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.[2] and has the distinction of being the only American work of poetry on display at the war memorial in Hanoi. The author of four books, his poetry related to his experiences as a captain in the United States Army during the Vietnam War. His work was hailed by veterans and their families nationwide.

Diagnosed with lung cancer as a result of exposure to Agent Orange during the war, he became a participant and active advocate for the Oregon Death with Dignity Act,[3] and spoke at the California State Assembly for a similar law proposed in that state.[4] He died at his home in Ashland, Oregon, at the age of 65.[5][6] He is survived by four children.

"The truth is,`` Mason said, ``that the only message I`ve taken from war is peace.`` [7]


  • The Moths & Violets of Vito & Me: The Story of a Poem [8]
  • Johnny's Song [9]
  • Warrior for Peace [10]
  • The Human Being: A Warrior's Journey Toward Peace and Mutual Healing [11]


  1. ^ "Steve Mason (1940 - 2005) - Find A Grave Memorial". Retrieved 2016-10-14. 
  2. ^ Sites, Kevin (2013). The Things They Cannot Say: Stories Soldiers Won't Tell You About What They've Seen, Done or Failed to Do in War. HarperCollins. p. 135. ISBN 0062099221. 
  3. ^ Roosevelt, Margot (4 April 2005). "Choosing Their Time". Time International (Canada Edition). Time Inc. 165 (14): 23–25. ISSN 0315-8446. 
  4. ^ "Timeline". Compassion & Choices website. Compassion & Choices. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 2006 ... Compassion & Choices’ Spokespeople, Steve Mason and Tom McDonald, give testimony in California State Assembly in support of California initiative AB 374, the California Compassionate Choices Act, which later fails by narrow margin. 
  5. ^ Obituary:Steve Mason, poet and voice of Vietnam veterans
  6. ^ Steve Mason, 65; Vietnam Veterans’ Poet Laureate
  7. ^ "A Lot Of Good Men Died In Vietnam. But Like Some Of You, I Was". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Retrieved 2016-10-14. 
  8. ^ Steve Mason, Joan Mahan (1974). The Moths & Violets of Vito & Me: The Story of a Poem. Nashville, TN, USA: Aurora Publishers. ISBN 0876951825. 
  9. ^ Mason, Steve (1986). Johnny's Song: Poetry of a Vietnam Veteran. Bantam Dell Publishing Group. ISBN 0553051601. 
  10. ^ Mason, Steve (1988). Warrior for Peace. Touchstone Books. ISBN 0671663844. 
  11. ^ Mason, Steve (1991). The Human Being: A Warrior's Journey Toward Peace and Mutual Healing. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0671667203. 

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