This I Believe

John - Wall Township, New Jersey
Entered on May 7, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family, war

I was commissioning as an Army National Guard officer the day I got my degree. I was part of the first post 9/11 class.

The Army was a choice I made; it wasn’t about school, or money, or terrorism. It was about an idea. I did not know what that idea was then; a very significant part of me still does not recognize it. It is like an anchor in the deep, though; while it has fallen, lazily with the current, it holds me close. It is me, and it is strong. It will make itself clear as the years and days and hours wear away my edges.

Maybe it was my father. My father had been an officer in the last great adventure, in Vietnam. It still slips and slides into his speech; sometimes, it comes into his eyes like the monsoons would. Other days it will roar from somewhere deep within him, angry and hostile, until it has tired and sleeps again. His war once burned time and souls to get through the hours; nowadays, it drags.

It drags and blurs into my own war. But where my father’s once howled with its wounds, my own quietly bleeds out. It slides, noiselessly, out of the lives of so many; yet there are so many I know that it has touched, and held. For me, it is closer to a ghost. I have not seen it but it haunts me. It has moved into my life, touching me vaguely, insistently, coldly. It has taken up an unwelcome residence; it seeks only to remind me that it remains. There are nights where I dream of writing the letters, and I awake to nothing at all. There are moments when I read a name and a cause of death, and the distance is no longer in years but in minutes, and I will feel a part of me break off, and fall to somewhere distant.

I am counting down the days until an artificial date and time for movement, for a general shift in things towards a total lack of control. But for now, I wait and wait, and the ghost of my war lingers and makes me shudder.