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It is late as I write. 3 AM. This is when I feel them most keenly. The boys who didn’t come home from the war.
You would think that such memories would be most appropriate on the most suitable days. Memorial Day. Veteran’s Day. But I’ll not think of Eric any more on those days than I do on any other day. Or any other night.
When I returned from Vietnam, when I was twenty, in my naivete I thought that surely my nation would never make this mistake again. Surely we would learn. Surely. Now, in my old age, after wars and more wars, I despair at – What? – some flaw in the human spirit, or whatever it is that keeps us killing.
And what remains is not the exact memory of war. Like so many memories, even the smell of cordite fades. As I age, what remains is a sadness that haunts me just before I sleep. And the face of a young man. Rob, who never knew the love of a good woman. Hank, who never lived in a house. Pete, who wasn’t there the day his daughter graduated from college.
These thoughts I have as, at 3 AM, I listen to an ancient Irish lament.
Copyright 2016 John Samuel Tieman.
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