Often I find myself turning off the 10:00 o’clock news and saying to the hell with it, I’m going to bed. Then I find myself turning and tossing with those headlines rolling like thunder through my mind.
But then there are times we are allowed to witness something that’s like a cold drink of water on a hot day. For some unknown reason, I have this strange habit of reading between the lines of a conversation, trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together before the story unfolds. My dear wife gets aggravated with me when we're watching a movie, telling me to be quiet.
Over the past few weeks I have watched such a story unfold in a Facebook group I joined a few months back. This group is made up of veterans and widows from the Vietnam War. A few weeks ago someone asked the veterans to write about the most traumatic event they saw while in country.
Several shocking things were written that would cause some serious nightmares. This room is not used for brag sessions, just stories only a war veteran would know plus, be mindful, talking about those horrors reduces the pent up stress that’s hidden deep in the soul a Veteran.
One of the stories shared in this group was very gruesome. I couldn’t help but notice the anxiety building as this man wrote out his story. Misspelled words, no spacing, and I could see his hands tremble as he typed.
He tells about a precious Brother dying in his arms plus, he himself was severely wounded during the battle. He listens as his dying Brother asks him to contact his family. He holds the lifeless body all night, refusing to let him go. I have no idea how a dying solder ignores his own pain to remember his family. This speaks highly of this brave man. Somewhere, “No Greater Love” comes to my mind.
Imagine, night after night, carrying this request in your heart for over forty years, knowing one day you must carry out that mission. I’m sure I could have come up with a thousand reasons to satisfy my conscience to let this mission pass. Carrying this request in your heart for over forty years was an awesome burden, knowing one day you must man up to your responsibility.
Now let’s complicate this mission with cancer. Like so many Veterans of Vietnam, through the use of Agent Orange, cancer strikes. It has with Larry. Drained of energy plus the pain of cancer, still he knows that request of years gone by must be fulfilled. He will travel over five hundred miles to stand at the grave of his fallen brother as he meets the family and shares only some of that awful event.
Larry used wisdom as he searched for the correct words, so he would not cause greater pain to this family. They listen very close as Larry talked of that awful day. Finally, after all those years, Larry Hansen stood at the grave, fulfilling the charge given by this fellow solder on a battlefield in Vietnam.
Being from the old south, I am often reminded of songs with the stories I have witnessed in life. This old song comes to mind when I think about Larry Hansen:
“I saw this wayward traveler, in tattered garments clad
And struggling up the mountain, it seemed that he was sad
His back was laden heavy, his strength was almost gone
But he shouted as he journeyed, "Deliverance will come!"
Then palms of victory, crowns of glory
Palms of victory, I shall wear.”
Job well done Larry Hansen.