blàr anam [45]

“Dear Son, Nothing from that first-and-only letter from ‘up north’. We may be overreacting here at home but ‘DMZ’ is a bad word for us and we feel you’ve moved into a zone of much greater danger. Tell us this isn’t true – and we won’t believe you – but, tell us anyway. The news on TV all seems to center right around your new home-away-from-home. It upsets your mom a lot, and it doesn’t make me feel any better. Surely by now you’ve experienced the unwelcome experience of unfriendly artillery? This was an unpopular item with your ancient father in an ancient war. All the various activities of the enemy were unwelcome to me, but being shelled by him was the most unpopular of all. Be very heroic – if you must – but be careful also. On Sunday afternoon last a very lonesome and unhappy young lady called me for a long phone chat. She shared our opinion of the DMZ and the whole deal in general. Somehow she had shared your mom’s wild idea that the 17th Air Cavalry was moving ‘out’ – not up north – and she was rather down in the dumps with the uncertainty of you and her, when you’d come back to God’s country, love, marriage, her school this fall, etc. and I can listen and listen with loving sympathy and feel a desire to help my dear son and his beloved in the effort they’re making to do battle with life and its problems and wrest their own salvation and happiness from it – but moms and dads – no matter how involved with loving concern – can only cheer from the sidelines – you and Marilyn (and Spook and Ray) are the ones in the game – your mother and I can only sit in the stands and cheer for you. We want you to win. Hopes for another letter like the last one. God bless and keep you son, Dad”
–Arthur Freeman, letter to his son David in Quảng Tri Province: 18 August 1970

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