When I tell people I'm going to Vietnam I get either, "Wow, that's really cool." or "Why?" My answer is that I've been fascinated with Asia for a long time, and I want to visit Vietnam in particular because my Dad was there for the war. (Several of the elderly folks I know seem to think the war is still going on and are concerned about me getting shot, but I try to assure them that I'm much more likely to get shot in Chicago.)
My Dad was in the war for one year. He did a tour on a river boat, and I don't know much else, other than that it affected him deeply. He didn't talk about it much, but he screamed in his sleep. I think the weight of holding all of that inside for so long played a large part in cutting his life short.
In an odd way I think that the war, which was officially over by the time I was 2 played a big role in my life too. I'm not sure exactly what I'm looking for by going there. Maybe going there and seeing a country with a quickly growing economy that has rebuilt and moved on will give me some kind of "closure". Kind of like the sense of relief that comes from seeing an old girlfriend with a new boyfriend. But I don't really feel any guilt about the war, even though I know Dad did. Before he died, I told him that I wanted to go there and do some volunteer work, and he really liked the idea of his son going back there to do some good. Maybe I'll learn something about my relationship with my Dad while I'm there. Maybe I won't. Either way, I don't think teaching and helping kids with developmental disabilities will be a waste of my time, and I hope that in some way my work there will be a fitting tribute to my father.
I Know, I Know...
2 years ago