Even Heroes Cried

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: War and Military  |  House: Booksie Classic

In Vietnam, as I have said a million times, I saw the best and worst of men at war. I saw compassion and empathy as young American boys and men responded to the sight of Vietnamese children and old men and women fleeing the slaughtering assault on their homes and villages.

EVEN HEROES CRIED

By Al Garcia

In Vietnam, as I have said a million times, I saw the best and worst of men at war.  I saw compassion and empathy as young American boys and men responded to the sight of Vietnamese children and old men and women fleeing the slaughtering assault on their homes and villages.  I also witnessed and glimpsed the vile and malicious look of evil and depravity in the eyes of some American soldiers as they surveyed the smoldering consequence of their search and destroy mission on a Mekong Delta village under the cover of a waning moon.

These were moments and pictures of war seared into my mind and soul.  Faces of young boys and men, reacting and acting to a moment that could change or extinguish a dream that was slowly fading away.  Each day, each night slowly overshadowing memories of a life they had left behind.  Living through an unending nightmare obscuring the dream of going home and of seeing the tears and feeling the embrace of parents, of family, of lovers and of friends.  These were the faces I saw each day as I traveled through the Mekong Delta as a combat journalist in Vietnam.  Their eyes wide open, their minds alert, and their hearts and souls ravished with the sights and sounds of the war around them, day-in and day-out.  And now some wonder why those boys and men who did come home still harbor the horrors of that long-ago moment in that far away place.

War is hell.  Most have seen or experienced war only through pictures in magazines, TV evening news or even history books.  But many young naïve boys and men lived through what many can only imagine and cannot fully comprehend or understand.  It is difficult to climb out of the abyss of hell.  Many never find their way out of the depths of the despair that never seems to leave their mind, nor can they erase the pictures or the sounds of the horror they have seen or caused, or the feelings that wake them up in the dark of night.  That is the hell of war.

It is hard to try to explain or describe what Vietnam was like, other than to simply say that it is hard to attempt to explain the inexplicable.  Vietnam was not simply a time and a place.  It was the loss of the consciousness of a nation.  It was the abandonment of young men and their dreams.

I saw and felt it all.  The good, the bad, the ugly.  Yet I was the lucky one.  I got to see it, report it, and then leave on a helicopter to my next assignment, while the men I had met and spoken to, stayed behind to face another day of fighting and dying.  And then another day, and then another.  And each time and at each place I went to during my tour in Vietnam, I kept seeing the same thing -- just different faces of confused young men.

Everyone talks of heroes and of bravery.  I talk of men who didn’t known what they were doing or the reason why.  I talk of what no one ever talks about but what I saw so many times – the fact that even heroes cried at times.  And it hurt me deep inside.


Submitted: May 22, 2021

© Copyright 2021 A.Garcia. All rights reserved.

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