A Soldier's Story




I looked up from a busied investigation to a man I was serving in that hour. A man with flesh rich with melanin and wisdom and experience far deeper than mine, he had known the earth much longer than I had been alive. Maybe my eyes wore the tired, beat down only men of a certain age and season are able to recognize. Maybe he saw it.

"I know its been really rough out here for you all. But look, no one will see it any other way. No one will know the things you know, no one will take any of that into account. I fought in Vietnam. When I returned, we took a beating like nothing I've ever known. Everyone turned away from me. We were ridiculed after fighting a war where we bled and some died. Did you know they would send little boys to our camps over there? Yeah-- 4, 5, 6, 7 year old little boys --they would send them carrying grenades into our camps of soldiers.

Tell me, what do you do? What's the 'right' decision there, when you see a child running toward your camp of friends, brothers, with a bomb strapped to his little body? I wish someone would tell me. But they can't. They just tore me up for years after instead. They only saw one way. I'm the one who has to live with it. I don't know, things are just different out here now--from a service man to a service woman, I hear your pain. No one else will because you aren't real to them on a TV screen. Keep serving this community the way you do. Keep caring. Thank you for serving me."


I exhaled

and slowly peaked out from behind the shadow I had been hiding behind alone for days and months, and I don't know for how long. 

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