|Inner Demons from War|
by Michael Lansford
Strangely enough, nowadays, as I lay in bed at night, I think of a few more insights about our war and our time there.
I have learned to write those thoughts down.
In combat, we lived and fought with the Angel of Death on one side of us and our Guardian Angels on the other side -- I can't even imagine the battles they waged over us and our fates – who would live, who would not. The reasons were unknown to any of us, but their decisions always became known, and they were final.
We had to learn early on to save life and to take life, without hesitation, feelings, emotion, and completely devoid of self-worth -- ours, or anything else.
It’s hard to empty your soul of everything you were raised up to believe in before your lives changed from war. Our values about life and the outside world were taken from us, and like it or not, we either adapted, changed, or we were gone.
Amazing, how young kids/men had to transform into what we still feel and endure inside us, to this day -- things we can't explain in mere words. Only another Combat Vet truly understands our inner souls.
Even our minds were emptied. No thoughts, except for how to survive just one more day, every day. Our single-most important thought was to live one day longer.
Now, years later, we still suffer and fight our demons. Some handle it better than others. Some never can and never will. It's hard to turn off war and combat, and just be home again, like nothing ever happened, yet it had and in such horrible ways. War scarred all of us inside forever.
One minute we were there, the next, we were home, and just trying to figure out who we were and had become. We didn’t know how we would deal with it, much less tell anyone else -- but no one was listening anyway.
We came home to a society that called us bad things, spit on us, threatened us, even hated us. They had no clue about who we were, or what we held inside. They didn't ask, because they didn't want to know.
However society thinks -- whether we won, or lost -- isn’t something we can control, or explain. However, we were looked on as losers who fought an unpopular war with no clear objective and no desire to win. If that was true, then we paid dearly for a lost cause.
If society has any doubts about what we vets gave in Our War to their "lost cause", they should all go to D.C. and visit The Wall. It has been paid for in full -- and then some.
Through every battle, mission, assault, conflict, contact, or whatever we had been involved in, we never backed down, never ran away, failed, or quit. We won at everything we had to do, no matter what the cost – even when the cost seemed too high at times. It was a high price we paid towards an end that ultimately had no end -- and at least for us, it will never end.
What we as innocent naive kids became defies description. We can never go back and start over, or be the innocents we once were. There is no on-off switch. War changes a person and it’s embedded in our beings forever.
We came home physically, yet we never really came "home" and we never will. Little things remind us of war. A song, a movie, a saying, the sounds of choppers flying over, or close by (we feel them even before they can be heard). And then there’s the 1,000-yard stare. That's something that stays with us always.
Our souls cry out for help and yet there is no sound, or anyone to hear, or know those fears. We have only each other and the ones we lost -- they will always know and watch over us.
When we left for war, none of us knew, or thought, would we be heroes and warriors, scared and remorseful, angry and revengeful, religious and sad, hateful and every other feeling a human can have, or imagine. Combat has a dramatic and immediate effect on you and your life, no matter what you may think you can, or cannot, do.
In an instant, the will to live makes your decisions for you -- there's no going back. You get cold and indifferent and all that matters is seeing the sun come up one more day and know you lived to see it.
So how will we be remembered from our war? Good, bad, evil, hurt, heartless, cowards, or even losers? Truth is, we have no say in what will be thought of us.
We will always seem different from others. How could we not? We walked a whole different path when we were young and it changed us, inside and out. Sadly, it turned out to be a one-way street …
Other Articles by Michael Lansford:
“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale
Feel free to comment on this post. You are also invited to write about anything you feel comfortable sharing. Memoirs From Nam is YOUR blog. You are writing America's history, sharing the truth about the Vietnam veteran, and what it was like in Our War.