Tears in the Darkness

In the dark wood in which we were ensnared, our vision was impaired. The Apostle Paul said that he saw through a glass darkly. We can relate. We were trying to focus without much light, and it was tougher than a woodpecker's beak. Our field of vision was, additionally, clouded by obstruction. We were looking at life through a veil of tears.

Jana experienced the tears of great loss. No longer could she commune with the love of her life. He was gone, and as a result, an important part of her was gone. Questions hounded her to the depths of her soul. Was she a widow, or wasn't she ? Did her child have a father, or was Karoni fatherless ? Was Ron dead, or was he being tortured in captivity ? What was she going to do ? What could she do ? Jana died a thousand deaths as she hoped one moment and despaired the next.

Not even little Karoni could avoid the shedding of tears of grief. As she grew older, she became increasingly troubled by the government's inability to resolve the fates of the missing. Since a faint flicker burns on the candle of possibility, she holds fast to her conviction that he may yet be alive.

Karoni is quite active in the cause. She spends hours writing letters to Congressmen, Senators, and Presidents. Her editorials have appeared in newspapers in diverse Texas cities. She is active in the National League of Families. She attends their annual meetings which are held in Washington. She's journeyed to the Pentagon trying to feret out the truth. She's lobbied to obtain classified documents. Her tireless efforts provide a regimen of medicine for her soul, but the teardrops of pain moisten her pretty face nonetheless.

After what my folks have been through, they have to believe in a literal hell. They have not been strangers to the habit a good cry. Like the country song says, "Lucky them. They were down to hurting once a day, everyday, all day long." The tragedy took a physical toll on them. The lines at the corners of their eyes became more pronounced. They were etched there by worry and depression. The part of Dad's hair that didn't turn gray turned out. Aging began to be evident.

Peace of mind was foreign to them. They believed Uncle Sam had abandoned some POWs in Vietnam. They felt that their boy could be one of the forgotten ones left behind. Thus, anxiety was a daily visitor at their house. Nothing is worse than having your child die, unless it is to have a child who is missing.

To commemorate the ultimate sacrifice of 58,000 American heroes who fell in the fields, jungles, and skies of Vietnam, a wall was constructed near the Lincoln Memorial in our nation's capitol. Perhaps veteran groups should build a monument for wives, children, and parents of the fallen. They are no less heroic, and they have suffered immeasurably. They, too, have paid the ultimate price.

Remembering, Dreaming

Everything reminded me of him. When an airplane flew overhead, it brought him to mind. When I saw a Pontiac, no matter what model, Ron's face would flash before me. When the news came on the radio or television, I listened intently to see if any POW developments had been forthcoming. Listening in class was difficult. I could think of little else but him. I couldn't stomach the idea of him, who was so full of life, being dead. On the other hand, if he was a prisoner, how would he ever get back to life in these United States ?

Sleep did not come easily. On occasion when it did come, slumber provided a brief respite. At such times as these, I would often dream a wonderful recurring dream that seemed so real. We would be coming out of a movie theatre, and he would be standing there with a radiant smile on his face. "I'm back, and I'm o.k.", he would say. We would run to him and latch our arms around his neck. Then he would smother us with hugs.

The dream happened on countless nights. This was a sweet dream. If only it had been reality. The problem was the morning always came. Slowly, the exuberance would fade as it would dawn on me, as I reached over to turn the alarm off, that he wasn't coming back. I had only been dreaming, again. Life was not a bowl of cherries. I, too, was seeing life through a veil of tears.

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six | Epilogue | Return to "Uncle Sam's Boy"