We have reached an apex of history which will never be understood by future generations. The disintegration of the Communist block of nations may continue until they are forgotten, a concept this generation finds unimaginable, but which is true, non-the-less.
Communism may become forgotten. Incredible.
The World War II ended in conflict with them, and the Korean War was a war against those B-------s, squint-eyed little men who fought back and forth over a barren rock you couldn't give away in a cheap auction. But from my meager perspective, the Vietnam War really cheapened the rhetoric. I was not as proud to be in the service as I had hoped to be, and no one else seemed to be happy that I was there.
Lest you mistake my sentiment, I am not sure all those political anti-communist nay-nesters were wrong, ill intentioned or foolish. I am a devout anti-communist, and I can recite abuses, tortures, and stupidity of Communism in the most horrible proportions.
But I don't relate well to all that. I cannot relate to the deaths of zillions of people. I cannot relate to billions of dollars spent on the cold and the hot wars. I can relate only to fairly simple things. I relate to my world, my turf. I can relate to Danny.
Danny Hallows. My good friend. We had plans. We had dreams. Dead. Killed in a helicopter crash, by those little B------s. A brand new Warrant Officer, scared to death, brave as Hell. Dead. I had always loved him as a friend, envied his place as a helicopter pilot and officer.
I read the letter, got about half through it. I am not very sure what happened next. I couldn't see anymore, I had a hard time breathing, and God knows I was wimpy but I wasn't crying. Marines didn't cry in those days. I can still relate to that moment very clearly. And the conflict between my sorrow and the cheapened rhetoric grew in me.
I have met some of those commie individuals since then. I discovered people who I can relate to. I find they are not that bad, that awful, or nearly as single-minded as we... I... had supposed. The average Frenchman, even some Europeans, smell worse than a Russian. They are not a bad looking people. They love their kids, their country, their homes. And every one I ever met was determined to make a good show for the Fatherland.
The Russians have their own opinions too, you know. They are not sure they like being around a bunch of Americans who have an ego which is as obtrusive as their sickeningly sweet smell.
Americans live in a country ridiculed for its wealth, but every American they know is looking for a way to make another buck. It is the only place on earth where a poor man can DRIVE in a very nice car to get a free hand-out. Russians in general feel that this is wrong, and feel pretty strongly about it.
How can you argue with that?
But it doesn't matter. As badly as we Americans stumble through international politics, we have won; we have beaten the adversary so severely that he has dismantled himself. The enemy has not become one of us, but his evolution will take him down his own path and he shall arrive at his own freedom. He has no other choice.
I drove down the road the other day and heard a British newswoman say that Gorbachev had beaten his coup. Yeltsin has created a new flag for State of Russia.
"A particularly bold thing for him to do at this time," she said, as though his standing on a tank and calling for overthrow of the coup didn't take some brass. The colors, she went on, were white, and blue, and red. With a star, a couple of bars…
What? What was that? I pondered it over, the colors, and played it over and over in my mind. Red, white and blue. Where do you suppose he got those colors?
Maybe we have won in a more far-reaching way than I had ever imagined. I still cannot relate to the big picture. But I can relate to Danny, and all he gave up for me.
About the author
Dear Mr. Kingsley:
I'm curious to know what British newswoman believes that the Russian flag is red, white, and blue with a star and a couple of bars. Does she know something that we don't know?
First, I struggled last night with my IPad to get you an answer, so I don't know WHAT I sent to you... forgive my complete new failure in APPLE technology.
2nd, thank you so very much for your candid observation... it is so very easy to get Mom to read and love all I write, but hard to get honest comments.
3rd... this article was written years ago when the world was falling apart and the Soviet world was changing each day. I had never given thought to the visual of a flag... I had actually seen odd Soviet flags (ie, no red with star and sickle), and so did not bother.
Fortunately, for my fragile integrity, a quick search of Soviet and Communist flags on Google revealed a number of flags that fit this description precisely.
I hope to get more of your comments. I am publishing three books about this stuff, and I may as well tell you that your comments about my engine failure are even more gratefully appreciated than before, simply because the occasional demand for integrity makes the complements sweeter.
Best of luck to you...
Your story of falling vertically in a helicopter; in the dark, was so gripping that I wanted to let you know that it gripped me. Good stories are much more than the sum of their word content. And I admire writers who are able to put something of themselves into their stories. You have done that in several of the stories you have posted. As to my candid remarks, that is just part of my thought process. When I pontificate about "to thine own self be true" that includes saying what I think about the writings of others; but most people don't want honest candor. So, thanks for buoying me up on that score.
Dan, As I re-read the story of your Army buddy Danny Hallows, the inevitable tears formed in my eyes. It really hurt you when you wrote it and I'm quite sure that it hurts now. Yet there is something noble about your determination to tell us, complete strangers. But that is why we share; and why we should continue to share.
It may hurt to read some of this stuff, so I usually avoid purposely reading about the Viet Nam War. I've been avoiding the literature for more than three decades now.