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Thursday, December 1, 2011

I Did My Best That Day {Viet Nam} By James J. Alonzo

© James J. Alonzo
Viet Nam

I did my best that day…I held him in my arms like a father would hold his new born son, proud and yet afraid. I was afraid he was going to die before the medics arrived, his wounds were so bad. What he needed was a priest. I was afraid he would die before I had a chance to tell him what he needed to hear.

He looked up at me and tried to smile through the pain. He was trusting me, believing in my ability, my strength, believing that I could carry him to safety. I lied to him. I told him fairy tales, not able to tell him the truth, that his wounds were mortal.

He looked at me, clutching my shoulder, and listened to my every word, his eyes filled with wonder and hope, like he was innocent and pure, like a child. A child cradled in the arms of weakness, doubt, swaddled in trembling fear and desperation.

His eyes closed slowly, hearing his last breath exiting his lungs, his arm slipped off my shoulder. It hung limp and lifeless at my side. His body, draped over my arms like a green bloody shroud, relaxed and rested, now shed of it’s bone tired weariness, shed of his final fears. He was now asleep, peaceful, eternal sleep, no longer troubled by thoughts of war, or the fear of death.

I lowered him on the ground in a soft bed of blood red dirt. I removed my flak jacket and placed it under his lifeless head for comfort. I pulled out my canteen from my belt, unscrewed the cap and poured water over my fingers. I touched his eyes, hands, and boots with my wet fingers, making the sign of the cross, mumbling a simple Catholic prayer,
“God, I give up to you this innocent child !”

…My arms are tired, he was too heavy for me to carry..

“Forgive this man and take him to his final resting place beside you, dear Lord.”

I scooped up a handful of dirt in my hand, and sprinkled it over his body, burying him deep in my memory, searing my soul with his face.

Like me, he is just 18, alone and frightened,,,afraid of dying. For him that fear is now over. Among the loud gun fire, a voice called out bringing me to the present, and I quickly pick up my weapon and ran for cover. This was the best I could do that day.

1 comment:

daddysgrrl76 said...

Thank you so much sharing one of your many stories...I never had the oppurtunity to hear any of my Father's stories, and now wish that I had MADE him tell me what you all went through so that I could've understood what you all had to endure. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU for bringing me closer to my father.