Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Letter to the Bear On His Late Life Homecoming From Viet Nam
You will be reading this after "Mail Call" on your flight back from DC where you got to tour the monuments with other Viet Nam veterans. I hope the flight is a calm one and that you can read this and other letters in peace and comfort.
Those days of the Viet Nam conflict were tough ones for us. I was the rebel teen with long hair and hard rock. My favorite album was "Kick out the Jams, Mother-Fucker" by the MC-5. You were either overseas or home working at the Pentagon.
We didn't get along all that well because we saw the war very differently. We also had father/son issues.
But those days are past, and I want you to know that I now see things differently. We are at the point in life when it is time to stop arguing about things not being the way we want them, what we wanted but never received from each other.
I see that you did what you had to do, what you were ordered to do. It has taken me a long time to learn to discern the differences between individuals and "the system." You didn't cause or escalate the conflict, but just did your job, supported your family, tried to do the honorable thing. I remember that, on your own time, you reached out to kids living near the base and you befriended them. I remember photos of you and them, you seated in the middle, big grin, them grinning too, a soccer ball in front of all of you. You were proud of that and spoke of it often after you returned from your first deployment.
You were then, and still are now, a good man.
I want to thank you for being a good father.
And I ask forgiveness for being an angry son who took his frustrations out on you. I apologize for getting into so much trouble, the juvenile court, the drunken binges, the harsh words.
I did not have to tools I needed to cope with my anger and grief and confusion that comes with adolescence.
We both did the best we could in the moment, and my part wasn't much to be proud of.
But here we are now, and you are coming home a second time. I want to get it right this time.
You went into hell, sacrificed your time and energy to support your family, your country. That is what a man does. I see that now. I see you now and owe you a better homecoming than the last one.
So, you are a hero, a good father, a good man, and I will say that out loud to anyone.
I just want you to know that I know.
With Great Love