Remember to Forget

Reads: 42  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

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

How does one erase a year in your life? How does one censor or edit a portion of your youth? How do you explain away the gnawing memories that materialize in the middle of the night, that make a grown man shudder in the dark? The easiest way is simply to remember to forget

REMEMBER TO FORGET

By Al Garcia

How does one erase a year in your life?  How does one censor or edit a portion of your youth?  How do you explain away the gnawing memories that materialize in the middle of the night, that make a grown man shudder in the dark?  The easiest way is simply to remember to forget.

Remember to forget the disillusioned faces and the disenchanted places.  Remember to forget the long and solitary days, and the unbearable and lonely nights.  Each day, each night, each person and each place, a bleak and dismal memory.  Instead of growing and evolving like a normal 20-year-old, and finding answers to a young man’s emerging curiosity and imagination, I found myself absorbed with bizarre and terrifying uncertainties and doubts.  I was in a world of finality not possibilities.  I was in a place defined by control, boundaries, restrictions and limits, of both body and mind.  And it was hard to forget where you were if you were here.  The place surrounded you and consumed you in every way, every day.

On being released from the physical and mental confines of a war zone, one experiences a sense of subdued elation, especially on boarding the Freedom Bird home.  The excitement of getting home is tempered with some apprehension and tension.  The first thing to be done is to remember to forget that your buddies still remain behind.  Remember to forget that some might never get a chance to board their Freedom Bird home.  It is a bitter sweet moment -- the idea of going home, when in your new reality, home, in a macabre and chilling sense, has been and forever more will be, a bunker at some mountain high outpost in the Mekong, or a battle group by the DMZ.  Family is now a group of once unknown boys and men who had your back and you had theirs.  No questions asked.  You just don’t forget things like this.  You have to make yourself remember to forget.

How does one simply walk away without a backward glance, at what is left behind?  How does one cut ties with what has been the entirety of your life, made more profound and more fateful by the unconditional sanctuary of acceptance, in a place so far from home?  A young boy left home a year or two ago on a bus from middle-town USA with tears in his eyes, and now a year or two later, that same boy, now a man, sits silent on a jumbo jet at Tan Son Nhut Air Base outside Saigon, preparing to return to a home ready to welcome a boy that no longer is.  How does one forget it all and simply continue where you left off?  So easy to imagine it possible, much harder to begin reliving a life placed on hold while you grew up so far away.

There are days I forget not to remember.  Those are days that can bring a smile to my face when I recall some funny incident or amusing encounter during my many treks throughout the Mekong Delta.  And then, there may be a tear or two, or just a deep sadness, as I may recount the sight of an old Vietnamese woman, her back bent over with the exhaustion of war, carrying a baby, crying and hungry.  Helpless, powerless, destined for misery and grief, as I ride in a jeep that blows sand in her face, as I speed by without a second glance.  So many days I forget not to remember, and the images return.  Lingering feelings revealed, and the unbearable feeling of having been there explodes within me once again.  

If only I could remember to forget.


Submitted: June 22, 2021

© Copyright 2021 A.Garcia. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:


Facebook Comments

More War and Military Essays

Other Content by A.Garcia