Sunday, March 19, 2006

Why the anniversary of the Iraq invasion takes me back to the 1970s

From the moment I watched the shock and awe three years ago, I wondered if this conflict would do to the soldiers in Iraq what Vietnam had done to so many soldier decades earlier. Since no one in my family or circle of family friends served in Vietnam, I shouldn't have known their pain.

I wouldn't have known their pain if I hadn't been raped.

Like every other student in my junior high school, I'd learned some of the facts about the war that wasn't quite an official war. Despite news coverage, what happened half a world away had never had a deep impact on me.

Then because of my restlessness and my need to avoid my ex-boyfriend, I went walking whenever I could and when summer break began between junior high and high school, I soon bumped into others who seemed to be just as restless. Without knowing why, I found kindred spirits in many newly returned veterans. Their anxiety and distrust of authority equaled or exceeded my own. Their need to self-medicate also equaled my own.

They weren't all harmless even to my standards at the time, but many of them helped me lose that feeling that I was the only one on the outs with everything that had once seemed right and normal. I still wonder about some of those ex-soldiers. Have they found peace or has Vietnam scarred them in ways they still don't understand?

On that evening three years ago, I began to wonder what would happen to a family that had been broken by Vietnam if a member of their next generation went to Iraq. That curiosity turned into my latest completed manuscript, HOME FREE. Even if this story never gets published, I'm glad I wrote it. In fiction at least I found some answers to my nagging questions.
It was the least I could do when it was one of those veterans who helped me pull myself out of my self-destructive spiral and who may have prevented me from doing something that could have ended or greatly shortened my life. I didn't know how to say it at the time, but thanks. You'll always have a special place in my heart.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:04 PM   1 comments links to this post


At June 04, 2006 6:40 PM, Blogger alyceclover said...

A lot of the Viet Nam veterans are homeless addicted to drugs and alcohol. Some Iraqi War vets are already on that path. Being prescribed Prozac to deal with the horrors, one found himself suicidal and depressed, so stopped taking it. He uses marijuanna instead, which makes him laugh. Two of my brothers friends went to Viet Nam, came back to live ordinary lives. (although one has been divorced a couple of times and lives with his Mother now)A brother-in-law had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and eventually turned to drugs (an alcoholic as well), divorced, in trouble with the law.


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