I wanted to update everybody on the details of what I now know of my Uncle’s suicide on June 8, 2005.  He was a Vietnam Vet who did two tours as a Marine doing recon.  First I would like to begin the diary by putting up here a few things that people had written as comments to ‘The War that was Lost’ diary.  I find these comments and voices more than just a little bit healing as I head out from here into a world without my Uncle in it.  I miss everything wonderful about him.  The next thing I am about to type though is extremely painful.  Because I watched him my whole life make a decent life for himself after Vietnam I had a false belief that damaged soldiers could have a good life if only they could work hard enough at it.  I’m glad that my false beliefs about that found their final death throes even if the insurgency in Iraq didn’t.  These people need healing and we are woefully inadequate and unsure how to fix what was broken inside of them.
Legacy for Michael

the silence is deafening
and I can’t imagine
how much it must hurt your soul
to see it happening
all again
when the horrors of that place
must all be contained
to make your life
you kept them at bay
looking for peace in the spirit
you grew in your family
not wanting to take
the ones you love
to that horrible place
you lived
your strength lives on
in those you left behind
finding it happening
all again
the silence is deafening
they will speak
and hear
the silence and the screams

ccw 6/10/05
by brinnaine

from A River Runs Through It

…And so, only after Paul’s death could his father tell a hesitant Norman that he knew more about his brother than the fact that Paul had been a fine fisherman: “He was beautiful” – and mourn in a sermon, even later, that all too frequently, when looking at a loved one in need, “either we don’t know what part of ourselves to give or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. And so it is those we live with and should know who elude us. But we can still love them. We can love completely, without complete understanding.”
Contributed by JLFinch

It’s Like Deja Vu (all over again)
by John Fogerty

Did you hear ’em talkin’ ’bout it on the radio
Did you try to read the writing on the wall
Did that voice inside you say I’ve heard it all before
It’s like Deja Vu all over again

Day by day I hear the voices rising
Started with a whisper like it did before
Day by day we count the dead and dying
Ship the bodies home while the networks all keep score

Did you hear ’em talkin’ ’bout it on the radio
Could your eyes believe the writing on the wall
Did that voice inside you say I’ve heard it all before
It’s like Deja Vu all over again

One by one I see the old ghosts rising
Stumblin’ ‘cross Big Muddy
Where the light gets dim
Day after day another Momma’s crying
She’s lost her precious child
To a war that has no end

Did you hear ’em talkin’ ’bout it on the radio
Did you stop to read the writing at The Wall
Did that voice inside you say
I’ve seen this all before
It’s like Deja Vu all over again
It’s like Deja Vu all over again
contributed by Boston Boomer

The last contribution is one that I just read today when I was able to check back on ‘The War that was Lost’ diary.  It feels completely appropriate to me today, and is a reminder to me TO LIVE and LIVE WELL and LIVE ON!


’cause the aunts live in places named Keokuk and Grinnell and Kellogg and Attumwa.
’cause sweet corn tastes like sunshine
and tomatoes are a fruit.
’cause jello is both a food group and an art form.
’cause they play serious pinochle and cutthroat dominoes.
’cause your favorite uncle will tell you what war is really like and he doesn’t sugar coat or hold back.
’cause he’ll tell you that he lived 50 years with a devil of guilt, that he reveled in unspeakable cruelty delivered to another human being.
’cause he left his soul on the battlefield and he knows that there is no glory or honor in the drug death leaves in your veins.
’cause he told you things he could never tell his own children.
’cause he finally sleeps next to his parents, next to your father who carried the same drug in his veins but would never speak, only rage and self destruct.
’cause the debt can never be paid, but there is still a chance to shine light in the world.
’cause the life I have began there.
contributed by SME in Seattle

SME in Seattle has no idea how appropriate this contribution was as the letter that my Uncle left next to him in the vehicle said that he had lost his honor, and sadly my mother’s family long ago decided to never speak of anything too ugly or too horrible.  I made a vow to myself about 15 years ago that I love them unconditionally but that is one teaching that I had to slay within myself and I will not make a gift of it to my children.  

My Uncle had another pretty serious struggle with PTSD in 1998.  At that time he did some EMDR therapy, but sleep had always been elusive most of the time since then for him.  My Aunt had a photo from Vietnam enlarged to a picture that was about 2 feet by 3 feet at that time.  It was a photo taken of him in a Vietnam village with children surrounding him lovingly.  It had hung in their bedroom since then until the morning of June 8, 2005.

The evening before they had planted flowers and garden plants.  They went to bed as usual.  The next morning my Aunt left for work and he pretended to do the same.  He had had an appointment the day before at the V.A. Medical Center in Colorado Springs but he had missed that appointment unknown by my Aunt.

As my Aunt drove to work he backtracked to their home.  He took his wedding ring off and placed it on their bed with his wallet.  He removed the large photo of himself in Vietnam with the children and drove to the V.A. Medical Center.  He placed the vehicle registration on the dash so that he could be easily identified and with the photograph and a note that he wrote about the nightmares that wouldn’t go away and the sleepless life of pain he led and his inability to go on with it, he shot himself in the heart and died in the parking lot in his vehicle.

Some in my family say that he shot himself in the chest to avoid mutilating his face in a way that would cause us all further trauma.  He was a very intelligent successful man though and had long ago taught me that the best decisions are based on looking at ALL the issues and deciding from there.  Not only did shooting himself in the chest not destroy the face of our beloved but I believe it also silenced the offensive organ that was broken and refused to heal.  I don’t believe that it was my Uncle’s mind that hampered him living on happily.  It understood all of the hows and whys of everything that happened.  I believe that it was his heart that was never able to reconcile Vietnam.  It continued to ache and weep and now it is silent and at peace.

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