“Sharing can be a way of healing. Grief and loss can isolate, anger, even alienates. Shared with others, emotions unite as we see we aren’t alone. We realize others weep with us.” ~Susan Wittig Albert
Through our writing, we walk out of the darkness into the light together, one small step at a time, recording history, educating America, and we are healing. ~CJ/Todd Dierdorff
by John Norwood
Retired USAF CM Sgt.
Aircraft Flight Engineer
A man of eighteen years, barely dry behind the ears, hears Uncle Sam’s call. In eight short weeks, the change is as radical as a caterpillar becoming a butterfly — only this change has no beauty to it. The young boy is transformed into a soldier, an instrument of war.
The days of taking his girl to lover’s lane and skipping class to go fishing are all gone. He is thrust into a world of violence against his fellow man. He begins to see the ravages of war. He learns to kill, not for sport or food, but for territory and ideals. He learns these skills with dedication and without question because he is doing what he is ordered to do.
Suddenly he is thrust into a world of pain, death, blood and pure fear. He sees things that no amount of education, or training, prepared him for.
His friends are now few and close, yet distant because getting too close will cause pain when that friend is no longer there. The cold, damp, heat, and loneliness become his constant companion. At times he tries to deaden the pain with booze. He fights with himself, trying to bury what he sees. He does his job without emotion, knowing if he feels, he’ll go nuts.
Then suddenly it’s all over. He sheds his uniform and finds himself back on Main Street USA. When he sees his old schoolmates, he finds he no longer has anything in common with them. He cannot talk about his experiences because they won’t understand. His youth was robbed from him and he no longer trusts those around him with the ease he once did.
He has wounds you cannot see; not wounds of the body, but wounds of the soul, mind, and spirit. No one can see them. No one can see the scars.
He drifts back to a time when he felt the pain for real. He seeks out answers he cannot find. At times he feels out of control and tries to find anything he believes will give him control, like booze and drugs, or he buries himself in work to the point of exhaustion.
He withdraws from relationships for fear of loss. He rejects authority for authority brought him to harm in the past. He feels alone in a world that doesn’t seem to care. He hurts, but no one can see the wounds; no one hears his cries for help. He is judged by what others can only see on the surface. They don’t see the Unseen Wounds. They don’t hear his silent cries. All he can do is ask, “Why can’t you see what this has done to me?”
“I am only one, but I am one. I can’t do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale
This article originally appeared on the website, Memoirs from Nam on 8/2/2014. Here is the direct link:
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