Just when I've fooled myself into thinkin' I'm all better, someone (like Rosie) writes how a class is learning about the Vietnam War and Viet vets. These are young people (to me) who were not alive during the VN war. I think she said it went something like this: they divided up the class and made two groups - the ones who went and the ones who didn't. Does that division sound familiar to anyone else or just to me? I got no problem with that. I've been livin' that division for 24 years.
Then they put their chairs back to back and said the ones who went had been KIA, and they both had to write their thoughts. Well, I try not to turn my back on the ones who didn't go as my trust factor is not too high, although my paranoia is. Actually, I don't mean that statement to be as universal as it sounds.
She said they wrote furiously for a few minutes and then were told that the ten who died in VN were to go to the front of the room and stand in a line. No sweat so far.
They were to represent the Wall.
Damn, I clouded up; and I knew it was coming, but I read on anyway. As long as that damn Wall is just black stone, I feel no threat. I can keep emotion at bay. As soon as it takes on a human face...(and there are one hell of a lot more than 58,000 of them represented to me there.)
Ten people represent the Wall. The others who stayed home had to go and face them, and they read what they wrote to each other. The first tear of this 'all better' vet rolled down my cheek, and I knew I had been lying to myself about things again. I've got a lot more to say about that Wall and what it represents to me, but I intend to do that under a separate cover.
Suffice to say, it touches/moves me. I would not have been able to do this exercise that these people did. It's too close to the secret hurt in my soul. Oh, I talk about the hurt. You see the result - but I don't talk about it *all*. The fact that these young people are interested (read care) enough to try to understand moves me almost as deeply as my pains from the war itself. For so many years Vietnam vet was a dirty name to call somebody, and now they teach it in schools.
Just when I think I'm better, something so simple and pure of feeling as this reaches into my soul and reminds it of how far I have to go. I cried - again. Not sobbing stuff - just tears welling up and a few of the more adventurous ones making their escape down my cheek to remind me that, indeed, I am still a long haul from 'all better.'
I'm glad that this happened. I realize now what had happened in Washington, D.C., after I left the Wall that night, was that I had gone 'shields up.' That is *not* how you get better. Now I know why I had not written about goin' to the Wall. I had that stone-cold lock on my feelings in place.
Thank you, Rosie, for writing of that class. Please tell your sister that it touched a vvet far away. It will make it possible for me to continue my journey down the road back home. I WILL come home. I've been enroute for far too long. I'm bringin' as many of my brothers with me as I can.
Help your brother, brother.