Friday, May 23, 2014

And In the Silence, Voices Shout

They say youth is wasted on the young. Currently, nothing could be truer. Forty-seven years ago, nothing could be further from that thought.

Today I read about a young man who spent his youth at the calling of his country. John Paul Bobo his name, a 2nd Lieutenant in the Marines. Caught in a battle near the DMZ in Quang Province, March 30, 1967, his left leg severed below the knee by a mortar, he refused med-vac. A make-shift tourniquet wrapped above the severing point, he jammed his stump into the mud so he could continue fighting.

Bobo was a mere twenty-four years old; 1967 marking the second year of full U.S. military action against North Vietnam. New choices arose for high school graduates during that time: college, enlistment, the draft or deferment. For many, their choices were made beyond personal decision.

2nd Lt. Bobo. Twenty-four years old. I stop and wonder about his post-war years if he had made it out alive. Would he suffer PTSD, have to face miles of red-tape for a handful of benefits, live beneath a highway overpass, too beaten to understand the quagmire surrounding veterans' benefits (an oxymoron at best)?

For the most part, I think of today's youth crop. How would they have coped, this entitled generation? After all, Annie, it's a "hard-knock life" here in the twenty-first century.

But I digress and gather my thoughts, sometimes a challenge like sweeping marbles on stainless steel floors. Today marks my return to an ignored manuscript.  Recent occurrences re-open the urgency to finish the story, its plot cemented by a wayward character named Alex Munroe, a Vietnam vet estranged from the loving father who wouldn't assist him in the art of draft-dodging.

What recent occurrences, might you ask, prompted my return? For one, the above story of 2nd Lt. Bobo, but that is one in the trail leading toward my scribble-scribble return. In recent months the characters spoke their history, reasons behind their actions.

But very recently, one week ago yesterday, a random path-crossing with a cherished Vietnam veteran catalyzed the return. Call him a tipping point or a messenger from the Universe too loud to ignore (but never call him an angelic divinity - for that he'd slap you silly). He and several other instances since have struck a clarity-chord within.

Seeing the story unfold again is like feeling the breath of a newborn upon your cheek. And the irony isn't lost on me that all roads intersected one week prior to the day we honor our servicemen.

Sometimes the Universe whispers, but then it screams because it can't just kick you in the face. Never ignore the loud, whispering, signs.

And to the cherished and sometimes forgotten veterans, this one is for you.

1 comment:

Kelline said...

You make some excellent points. I tend to think surviving post-war is easier because we have greater telecommunications for men in the field so that they can access support from loved ones quicker and more often.

In the past, soldiers wrote letters in the field, sent them via carrier through the trenches and out to the mail system but often the letters had to be held so that soldiers didn't compromise their positions or the letters couldn't be apprehended by enemy spies. It would take a year sometimes for one letter to reach it's destination and that was so hard for family and friends on the home front waiting to receive word.

My son was deployed March 16th with the Air Force Reserves. He gets to skype home whenever he can, almost daily. He gets to email me almost daily. He gets the support and encouragement he needs so I think, if he returns home, he'll be able to cope with after effects much better knowing he had home so close to him. he gets to see his son weekly, talk to his mom [me] often and it just helps a young soldier to stand longer and stronger.