Today is a Bad Day

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

As a writer I have my good days and my bad days. My good days are those where I can sit behind my computer and write about things that inspire me or motivate me. Things that stimulate and arouse my intellect and passion. My bad days are those where I remember too vividly the faces of soldiers I met in Vietnam, and recall the sights and sounds of an alien world of poverty and war -- morning, noon and night. Too often the bad days overtake my good days. Today is a bad day.

TODAY IS A BAD DAY

By Al Garcia

As a writer I have my good days and my bad days.  My good days are those where I can sit behind my computer and write about things that inspire me or motivate me.  Things that stimulate and arouse my intellect and passion.  My bad days are those where I remember too vividly the faces of soldiers I met in Vietnam, and recall the sights and sounds of an alien world of poverty and war -- morning, noon and night.  Too often the bad days overtake my good days.  Today is a bad day. 

I have learned to accept the memories and the pictures that at times assault my mind and my emotions.  I can even recall conversations I had with soldiers and feel the emotion I felt at certain times and at certain places during my tour in Vietnam.  And although it’s been over 50 years since I returned from the killing fields of Vietnam to the big city streets of New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, the impact of that moment in my life continues to linger and fester within me. 

I now am beginning to understand why my dad and my uncles used to speak of their experiences during World War II, and what they endured and saw and did.  I could not understand why my dad and uncles would tell us stories when I was growing up, of battles and of what they saw in Europe and the Pacific.  They spoke of seeing friends killed right next to them and of hearing men die in agony and despair.  And at that time long ago, I thought that it was only history and felt safe and secure because I knew history could not repeat itself.

But then I found myself confronted by the horrors of war myself, and I remembered the stories my dad used to tell and the sorrow I used to hear in his voice as he spoke.  And now I find myself writing stories of my war and my experiences and my sorrow.  And I see history senselessly repeating itself.  The same battles but with different names, the same boys and men, but of a different generation, but the same sorrow and pain without distinction to the time, the place or the purpose.  War, I have learned, is for all seasons and for all reasons.  And like my dad’s war, the legacy of Vietnam was the haunted minds of those plagued by nightmares and visions burned into their souls.  I now understand what my dad and my uncles lived with for a lifetime after they returned home from their own war back in the 40s and 50s.

Like a cancer, war -- no matter its size, duration, location or purpose, infects the body and soul of every soldier that it touches -- some more aggressively than others, some more permanently than others, while victimizing those left behind, by killing dreams and mutilating lives.

Survivor’s remorse is common in all wars.  The veterans of Vietnam were no exception.  For me personally, it meant dealing with the fact that I returned while some friends from my hold neighborhood did not.  What made me special?  Why them and not me?  Questions I have never been able to answer.  Questions that haunt me each day I wake up.

And so, I write.  And in my bad days I write about Vietnam and about the boys and men I meant and saw and spoke to, and about their dreams and hopes that they spoke about while waiting to come home.  It was the only thing that made them see tomorrow – the dream and hope of coming home. 

And I write, and write and write, in the hope that by doing so the words, the feelings, the emotions that come from deep inside of me, will someday erase the emptiness and sorrow that I feel each day as I think of those whose names are etched on a black marble wall.  So many names, so many dreams, so many tears – and all I can do is write words and feel a loneliness that never leaves my soul.

Today is a bad day.


Submitted: May 28, 2021

© Copyright 2021 A.Garcia. All rights reserved.

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