Thursday, May 29, 2014

I Remember Viet Nam

Yesterday I listened to an NPR story of recovered reel-to-reels of young men headed to, in the midst of, and
some not making it home from Viet Nam.  It is a gut punch to hear their young selves in that crucible time, especially the one who didn’t make it home.

I listen and I remember . . . being a child a teenager and the television news and Walter Cronkite’s voice bringing us the news and images of war never the likes of we had seen and heard before or since, while eating my supper. . . body bags and body counts and children and tall grasses blowing from the winds of helicopters hovering above . . . marches and protests and anger in our streets and our homes . . . I remember I was opposed to the war – Viet Nam is why I became an aspiring pacifist.

I remember my Uncle Richard being there and worrying about him and the few stories he would share when he came home – bombs in baby diapers and jeeps exploding in front of and behind him.

I remember it ending and friends like Walt being spared being sent and numbers taking on desperate meaning as the draft lottery decided who went and who stayed.

And I remember the POW/MIA bracelets

I wore mine until it broke – snapped in half.

I do not remember the man’s name on the bracelet I wore.  I kept the two broken pieces in my jewelry box for years.  I do not remember when I decided to let it go and leave it behind.  I do remember he was MIA, my soldier.  I was not a person of faith at that time, but I suppose in some way, the thoughts I kept of him formed a prayer of sorts.  I cannot know what happened to him as I cannot even remember his name.  And that troubles me greatly.  How could I have remembered so much and forgotten his name?

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