On A Field of Dreams

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

I have walked upon a field of dreams and felt the tranquility of silence and of reverence, in a place beyond the rainbow, where skies are blue and where dreams remain forever.

ON A FIELD OF DREAMS

By Al Garcia

I have walked upon a field of dreams and felt the tranquility of silence and of reverence, in a place beyond the rainbow, where skies are blue and where dreams remain forever. 

I have seen the shattered destiny of men on the profane battlefield of war.  I have felt the shallow emptiness of sorrow and wiped away tears of guilt and of remorse.  And I keep hearing the insubstantial words to be uttered and to be heard in the days to come -- “He gave his life.”  And at that thought my heart sinks even deeper than the dark and bottomless pit that war becomes.  For it is then I realize that I have reached the bounds of hell, as the excruciating pain of reality overtakes the absurdity of the moment and of the place.And I ask myself, through tears and muted sobs of grief, how could he have given his life for something he did not understand or accept?  That was the dilemma of my generation in Vietnam.  We were not giving up our lives – our lives were being stolen, and our dreams were being smothered.

I lived through the nightmare and the hallucination of Vietnam.  Each day I heard and wrote about faceless and nameless boys and men, and even women and children, forever extinguished and diminished.  Each day I felt less than the day before.  Each day I lost a part of my humanity and my identity.  And in the end, when I returned home, did anyone ever say to me, “You gave your life”?  Did anyone ever notice that I had left myself behind? 

That is the unfortunate truth of war – deaths on the battlefield, and the death of the spirit and the soul of those left to remember the sights, the sounds, the smell, but most of all the emotion of war.  For many, the Vietnam war ended decades ago.  Yet the nightmares and hallucinations remain.  Some nights and some days better than others, but always the faces, the voices, the pleas and cries in the dark of those that were left behind.

And on a cool October day, years after I had returned and resumed what was left of my life, I visited Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia after having spent the previous day at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC.  Two days in October that defined and clarified for me the senselessness and madness of war – something that I had known for years.  But to see the names of so many etched on a black marble wall – some names that I knew and remembered too well, and then to gaze over a field of white headstones that seemed to rise majestically from the ground, brought back feelings that I had hoped time had extinguished and destroyed.  Instead, I found myself attempting to hold back my tears.  And I failed.

Here I was in Arlington, walking on a field of dreams.  A field of long forgotten and abandoned dreams – lives and dreams taken not given, stolen not offered.  Because no matter the circumstance, war does not ask of anyone, it just takes, consumes and grows.

And so, I walked through the field of dreams, and I also felt the cold black marble with the etched names of strangers and of friends, and I cried on those October days of long ago.  Grown men do cry, I learned, but this time, unlike when I was still a boy in war, I let the tears down my face and I let the pain flow through every part of me. 

For I finally knew that they were all in a place beyond the rainbow now, where skies are blue and where dreams remain forever.


Submitted: May 31, 2021

© Copyright 2021 A.Garcia. All rights reserved.

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