Dear John

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

War unites confusion and delusions and destroys dreams and aspirations. Vietnam was no exception, and the boys and men who found themselves in the middle of the chaos and madness of war were not immune from the loneliness and heartache of separation from a world of promise and prosperity left behind.

DEAR JOHN

By Al Garcia

War unites confusion and delusions and destroys dreams and aspirations.  Vietnam was no exception, and the boys and men who found themselves in the middle of the chaos and madness of war were not immune from the loneliness and heartache of separation from a world of promise and prosperity left behind.  A world where sweethearts and lovers were expected to keep the dreams alive and the ambers of passion burning.

While deployments to Vietnam became commonplace and normal, young lovers felt the stress and anxiety of parting, and bore the weight of the uncertainty, distrust and misgivings of a place far from the city lights and white picket fences of any place USA. 

And oh, how they smooched and wept before they left for war in Vietnam. 

And, oh, how the girls left behind blew tender kisses at the windows as convoys of busses eased out on the highways and byways as their soldier boys were driven away to a war on the other side of the world.  Tender words and remembered gentle touches were what the soldier boys kept deep inside their broken hearts as the buses faded out of sight.

And then, the reality of war and distance and loneliness begins to take its toll.  And then the letters begin to come.  Constant, reassuring, passionate affirmation of love and hope and dreams.  Words that sooth a broken heart.  Words that lift a fallen spirit:  "I'll never forget you and think of you daily.  I will always be here for you.  I will always be true."  A respite from the cruelty of the hot humid sun or the drenching cold rain while cowering beneath a mangrove tree, drenched in sweat and fear.  And, oh, how the letters kept coming .  Week by week the letters kept coming, a reassurance of faithfulness, closeness and fidelity.  At times the letters were even spiced with splashes of perfume just to tease the lonely soldier boy of all that he was missing and all that awaited him upon his return.

Then one day the letters stopped coming.  Suddenly and unexpectedly, the letters stopped coming.  Like others before, Soldier Boy begins to make excuses.  Maybe her letters were lost in the mail.  Maybe she’s sick.  Maybe she has the flu.  But deep down he knows the truth.  For nobody knows her as well as he.

And then, when she finally gets the courage to write again, she begins her letter with "This hurts me more than it hurts you. . . ."  And it is then that in a place and time a thousand miles from nowhere a soldier’s heart is shattered and the dreams that had kept him going begin to fade.

It is then that the words heard not long before of “I'll never forget you and think of you daily.  I will always be here for you.  I will always be true,” sound hollow and false.  How does one forget the tender words and gentle touch?  How does one ignore the tightness in the chest and the tears that promise to expose the weakness of the heart? 

“Dear John” letters were commonplace in Vietnam.  And through clenched teeth and glistening eyes a soldier lies and laughs it off.  Yet inside the pain persists and lingers and festers into the long and lonely days and nights that seem to never end. 

War changed soldiers, sweethearts and lovers.  War destroyed dreams and aspirations.  War slayed hearts and minds beyond the killing fields of Vietnam, to places back home with big city lights and white picket fences near fields of clover and grass.  “Dear John” was a soldier’s enemy of the heart, just as lethal as Charlie was an enemy of the body and the soul.

“Dear John,” begins the letter, and a soldier drops his head in silence and understanding, while behind him and around him the war proceeded.  Another layer to the sadness, the sorrow and the fear that made each day a struggle to complete.  War kills the spirit and the dreams of all who touch the fire and fury of wars and battles that never end.


Submitted: May 23, 2021

© Copyright 2021 A.Garcia. All rights reserved.

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