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Recently I have had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with the best friend of my 80-year-old aunt. The lady - Thelma I will call her - is a vivacious 88 years young and lives in a small town in the Southeast.  Thelma still drives and she owns the house she and her husband (now almost 20 years gone) bought over 50 years ago to raise their family in. She is healthy and active in the community and expects to live quite a bit longer (she has two older sisters alive!), and Thelma told me frankly that she cries herself to sleep every night because she is quite alone, her only son and only hope for grandchildren (and great-grandchildren by now) having been killed in Viet Nam nearly 40 years ago.

Some perspective is due here, of course.  More of us came home from Nam than died there (of course).  Many people have lost children - even only children - to disease and accident (of course). And Thelma's son, I learned, was a volunteer and a Special Forces officer; one could - a bit heartlessly - argue that he was asking for it. (Me? I was a draftee medic who got in and out in a year and a half.) Thelma's son must have been a hell of a man, I'll bet we would all agree, if we could meet him - which we can't (of course).

So I must ask . . .

Is there someone who will contend that the world is any better, hell, any different, than it would be had Thelma's son been able to stay home and get married and have children and be out hacking away on the golf course this afternoon?

I mean (of course) Thelma's son and 58,000 other Americans along with some number of Koreans and Aussies and (of course) 2 million Vietnamese who died before their time in a violent manner for no very good reason . . .


I very seldom meet other VN vets in varous places I work (we must be a sickly lot, or maybe a lot of us live under bridges, I don't really know), but twenty-some years ago I happened to be present when a new guy in an office told a supervisor about my age that he had 'lost a son' in Viet Nam. 'Bummer!', said the boss. 'Did you see those Bears on Sunday?'


That's a problem for me, and it's a real problem when I hear someone assert that 'we' must prevail in Iraq for some obscure reason, and it's a problem every time I have lunch with Thelma.  


I suppose it's evil, but I sometimes fantasize that one day my son might encounter Lucianne and hear her whine about the fat son who was felled by some painful wasting disease or was run over by a Fedex truck or was otherwise taken from us - it certainly won't be because he put his fat ass in harm's way in Iraq - 'before realizing his full potential' . . .  Sometimes I'm really philosophical about it, but most of the time I hope he laughs at her. That's just me, I guess.

What do you think?

Originally posted to Clem Yeobright on Mon May 08, 2006 at 05:50 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I used to think that there was some sort (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maybeeso in michigan

    of cosmic justice to the world, but I realize that is not true... bad things happen to good people and then more bad things happen to good people.  Sometimes the  universe evens things out, but mostly not.
    The Luciennes of the world never seem to get what they really deserve.

  •  I came back from Vietnam (0+ / 0-)

    but I don't see that it has much to do with my being any more able to answer your question. But I will make two comments.

    If I had died in Vietnam I would never want anyone to mourn or miss me to the extent that they cried themselves to sleep for more than 40 years ... I would want the survivors to laugh and smile or not remember me at all. (That is a line from a very good movie ... but for some reason I am blocking it ... might have been a Little House on the Prairie Episode, I have two daughters that I would never have fathered had I not come home; obviously a very conflictual circumstance for me which is why I am blocking it.) As for what I accomplished ... I question that every day and then I consider the site below.

    Let us look at another life - Albert Einstein, a man I admire greatly BUT it might have been better if he had never been born because he was a major contributor to the physics of Nuclear Weapons.

    Better not to play God I think.

    Of death and birth:

    Mehlman - How long have you hated, and robbed, and abused and mocked America? bt dash888 DailyKos

    by Carbide Bit on Mon May 08, 2006 at 06:38:23 PM PDT

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