Diary a touching view of war

Published 11:37 am Wednesday, October 6, 2010

“After one has abandoned a belief in god, poetry is that essence which takes its place as life’s redemtion.”

— Wallace Stevens

And he wrote, “The whole race is a poet that writes down / The eccentric propositions of its fate.”

Email newsletter signup

I suspect some of you may be disturbed by the words of Wallace Stevens. I had to look at it a few times myself and I don’t really know a lot about Wallace Stevens.

Graham Greene said, “Morality comes with the sad wisdom of age, when the sense of curiosity has withered.”

Another comes to mind in my advancing age. Instead of being curious I find myself instead out in the back yard with Mello watching leaves fall while she searches the neighborhood for romance or, later, looking at the moon with Mello sniffing — preferring to sniff around back rather than being in front of the house running into people on foot or bikes passing by.

The other night it was close to 2 a.m. when we were outside making our way up the neighbor’s driveway beside the house when Mello unleashed a couple of her alarming barks that sent a young biker biking fast down the sidewalk almost into shock. I think he shouted something back as he passed the neighbor’s house. And so much for 2 a.m. walks.

These days I spend large portions of the day in the house, however I attempt to slip down town for a cup of coffee and some quiet reading while hoping they settle down when I’m not here. Mello likes to go to a park if no one else is there.

Last Friday I came to the end of “Last Night I Dreamed of Peace,” the book sent to me by the son of a soldier who died in Vietnam who was responsible for Duc Pho Catholic Orphanage where we took our laundry frequently. I remember wanting to adopt a little Vietnamese girl residing there whom always wore a nice warm smile when we stopped with our laundry.

Dang Thuy Tram’s diary is touching. She was there for three years in South Vietnam as a doctor, coming from Hanoi. As the book ends there is one more page that reads: On the morning of June 22, 1970, soldiers from a company of the Americal Division (of which we were a part) heard the sound of “a radio playing VN music and voices of people talking” while out on patrol. Later that day, the 2nd Platoon spotted four people moving toward them down a jungle trail. One of them was Dr. Dang Thuy Tram, dressed in black pants and a black blouse and wearing Ho Chi Minh sandals. The Americans opened fire, killing Thuy and a young NVA soldier named Boi. “The other two evaded off the trail and were lost by the element,” according to the after-action report. Discovered among Thuy’s possessions were a Sony radio, a rice ledger, a medical notebook with drawings of the wounds she treated, bottles of Novocain, bandages, poems written to an NVA captain along with his photograph—and this diary.

A quote from the book by Dang Thuy Tram: Perhaps I will meet the enemy, and perhaps I will fall, but I hold my medical bag firmly regardless, and people will feel sorry for this girl who was sacrificed for the revolution when she was still young and full of verdant dreams.

And I need to thank Ron Rod in Wisconsin for sending me this book. It was Ron’s father who was responsible for the Duc Pho Catholic Orphanage in Duc Pho. Vietnam was also where Ron’s father lost his life.

And now back to the beautiful weather that has been bestowed upon us along with the falling leaves. We used to burn the leaves at Vilt’s Valley when I was growing up there and now the valley is home to some deer that occupy the land.

I introduced Mello to two of the deer a few weeks back and then again with Mello when the water was high. The high water would have caused serious damage to the place had it still been there.

As for the Gubernatorial Race, I am enjoying Tom Horner saying, “We need to get past this divide of who’s right and get back to arguing about what’s right.” He worked for Sun Newspapers back in the 1970’s so he can’t be all bad.

The state Republican Party chairman said, “You need to inspire people and he’s charismatically challenged.”