I Remember the Days

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

I remember the days I spent in Vietnam as a young boy, not yet a man. I remember the first day and the last day, with the days in between just numbers on a calendar filled with visions and with sounds that still haunt me and wake me in the night.

I REMEMBER THE DAYS

By Al Garcia

I remember the days I spent in Vietnam as a young boy, not yet a man.  I remember the first day and the last day, with the days in between just numbers on a calendar filled with visions and with sounds that still haunt me and wake me in the night.

War of whatever type and wherever fought has a tendency of changing lives, altering destinies and ending dreams.  And I felt it, I saw it and I experienced it all in the course of a lifetime lived out in a matter of days or weeks or, if you were lucky to have survived, even months, living amongst the rice paddies, jungles and mountain tops of a paradise lost. A place called Vietnam.

A young boy rushed to manhood by an overdose of adrenaline generated by fear, terror, dread, anxiety and loneliness, produces a lost boy who too quickly and out of necessity, becomes a bewildered and disorientated man.  And I was like so many others that had come before me.  We were not given a choice.  In order to survive, we had to put aside our youthful innocence and pretend to understand the purpose and the strategy for killing, slaughtering, maiming, and destroying human life.  And it wasn’t easy growing up so suddenly, so alone, and so far from home. 

The hardest part of becoming a man in war is hiding the tears that still tend to escape a hardened soul despite all efforts to conceal the sentiment or emotion that we thought had faded with the innocence of our wholesomeness.  Yet there remains deep inside of us, the remnants of who we used to be, and in an unprotected moment we might reveal the humanness within by shedding a tear of sorrow for a fallen friend or fellow comrade.  I learned the hard way that the heart has no armor or shield to protect us from the broken bonds that war inflicts.

I remember the days as if they were yesterday.  Each day a marker in my life, reminding me how cruel and callous, cold and calculating we could be.  I remember the days and think back and try to make sense of the absurdity of war.  I remember the days and recall the sorrow and the fury that I felt when I learned that my buddy from back home had been killed.  And then again, and then again -- I was told of friends and schoolmates who had lost their lives, scared and alone, in the pointlessness of war, in fields and jungles in a paradise also lost to war.

War took my youth and my innocence before I was ready to let go.  War took my friends before they had a chance to live and share their dreams with me.  There is an obscenity to war that forever lingers and endures despite the years that pass and the memories that may fade.

Vietnam was so long ago -- and yet it only takes a single spark -- like a name, a recollection of a face, or just recalling a moment shared with a fall friend, to bring back the memories, the sorrow and the regrets.  And it is then I remember the days . . .


Submitted: May 31, 2021

© Copyright 2021 A.Garcia. All rights reserved.

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