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Location: Midwest, United States

Monday, May 31, 2010

True Story

It’s Memorial Day and I’m feeling pensive and griefstruck.

Many, many years ago, I was living in Washington, DC while on special assignment. The movie Platoonhad just been released and, having nothing else to do, I bought a ticket and a box o’ buttered popcorn then watched the film on widescreen with an admixture of horror and grief.

A coupla days later I had dinner with a beloved elder cousin and her husband. I blathered through dinner, on and on, about the film I just saw that had made such a deep impression. When I finished gushing/blathering my in-law turned to me and said: I was there.”


Turned out he was. Turned out he actually knew Robert Stone. Turned out they both served in the Tropical Lightning Division (although Robert Stone occupied himself in the rearguard and my cousin-in-law fought on the perimeter). He showed me photographs. He revealed his scars. It was quite the evening. My in-law, the most pacific man I had ever known, revealed what he learned in Vietnam. He had never talked about that war to me before (I never even knew he had served), but he talked about his experience that night. He talked about the fear, firefights, killing and horror, the deep pits excavated afterwards to bury the dead. He revealed parts of himself I never fathomed existed.

I had cried while viewing the film.

A coupla decades later, I cry harder still.

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Just so you are clear: All the stories I post are true (as best as I can convey them).

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Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

Your words have never been in doubt, Jonas.

I saw Platoon when it came out... I too was filled with horror, pain and grief. The only person I've ever talked to about being in battle was my stepfather, who served with the Black Watch in WWII and the tender age of 17. He rarely said anything, and when he did, it got shut down very quickly. Almost all of his comrades in arms died in battle. He felt horribly guilty to have survived. It scarred his psyche so much more than his body.

War kills the souls of those who survive. {{hugs}}

Mon May 31, 10:41:00 PM  
Blogger GYPSYWOMAN said...

i've just found my way here through gabi's blog - have read and re-read several of your posts and find them exquisitely and poignantly beautiful - however, i am unable to find a way to "follow along" over here??? in any event, a great blog!

Tue Jun 01, 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger Kass said...

To feel deeply is a curse and a blessing.

Wed Jun 02, 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger Gabriela Abalo said...

I'm very touched by this post Jonas.

I always ponder about the people that survived war and how they cope with life.

I wrote a short story on the subject some time ago : Tim (


Thu Jun 03, 10:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking to those who have served is very, very sobering. Whatever one's political persuasion it make you realise we should not be sending our people to war. It is so damaging. I understand exactly what you are saying here, Jonas. To really know the meaning of war is horror and sorrow rolled into one.

Wed Jun 09, 01:13:00 AM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Yes, Ponita, War can kill the soul (or, if not that, do considerable damage). It isn't often that a survivor speaks. It pays to listen whenever the few words come.

Welcome, Gypsywoman! I hope you find something of value here.

It's true that I don't have links to facilitate "following." My blog template is an aged and venerable thing. It has served my needs well. And...well...I've grown accustomed to it...

I've since noted that you discovered the way to "follow" along. I feel gratified that you would take the trouble. The burden now falls to me, I suppose, to post thoughts worth reading. That's OK. I challenge myself constantly to think thoughts worth pondercating.

Yes, Kass, yes!

I grew up in a neighborhood comprised of war refugees, Gabi. All that I witnessed/experienced shaped me in many ways.

Yes, Selma. To understand war and its consequences is to forever revile it.

Wed Jun 09, 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger Yvonne Osborne said...

That was a great movie and yours a moving story. Seems we're thinking along the same vein nowadays....

Wed Jun 09, 10:10:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

And we're not alone, Yvonne. Countless others feel much the same, think the same way.

Sun Jun 13, 11:38:00 AM  

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