Sunday, November 4, 2007

Reaching into the Past

Last week, in honor of the upcoming Veteran's Day holiday, I posted a story on our local forum about the Vietnam era MIA bracelet I purchased and wore as a child. I've written many stories over the years, in fact this one was originally penned some time ago, but it's one of those stories I've always just felt a NEED to share. Maybe it was emotional leftovers of little girl me, overwhelmed by history that she didn't comprehend as it took place. Or adult me, who finally recognized the conundrum of wearing a bracelet pertaining to war when an anti-war poem graced the wall of our home. In any case I pulled it out, dusted it off and tried to share with the reader why this stranger touched me so deeply. Last year I "condensed" it to submit to NPR's "This I Believe", where it lives on at their website. On Veteran's Day, I will post it here.

To share this story is to take a chance. Vietnam was a touchy subject and although time has taken away some of the sting, it can't erase the unpleasant memories. And yet, some part of me always hoped it would. The best gift a writer can receive is for someone to read their work and mutter a soft,"Wow." You have truly touched someone's heart when they can feel what you have felt, to the point they are somehow moved...by the words of a stranger.

Posting the story on the Forum was my way of saluting veteran's of all eras. Another poster added a link for the POW/MIA site and I checked it. Sure enough, there was "My Captain", as I came to think of him. His son was listed as family looking to obtain a bracelet. My Captain was an MIA, so I still have his. I found a second site and once again I found the son. He was correcting a couple of errors in his father's bio. But it was his parting sentence which grabbed my heart and almost broke it: "He is the father I never knew and I think about him every day."

Wow.

Looking at the bio I saw that our father's were born the same year. My Capt. and my father-in-law were both born in Michigan...my-father-in-law was also an Air Force Recon pilot. My Capt. disappeared when I was eight and appeared on my wrist when I was twelve. When Vietnam was "officially ended", I respectfully lay that bracelet to rest in my jewelry box. And I felt like a deserter, some how. I would even grow up to work with his widow at one point in my life, but I never told her. I was afraid of causing her pain somehow. Just the sight of that bracelet still catches me off guard, leaving a lump in my throat. Yet it's still there...a part of growing up that I have never had the heart to part with.

Until now.

I can't get the son's words out of my head. So I have sent an e-mail to the address left behind with the bio. It's two years old, but you never know. Maybe completing my mission of never forgetting My Captain means symbolically placing him back into his son's loving hands.

1 comment:

Bonnie said...

Keep us posted. You sharing the story has made it ours now, also, and would like to know the conclusion. What a great book that would make...think about it!