and Rumors of War
I was growing up, the war in Vietnam was just beginning to get
really nasty. After I finished college and law school, the war
was winding down but I was still subject to being sent over to
that faraway place. Luckily, I never did get orders to report
there but stayed in the States for the entire length of my military
service. Friends of mine were sent, and in every case the war
stayed with them long after they returned.
was brought home to me recently, when I learned one of my high
school classmates had died. Rick and I were not best friends in
high school, but our class was small enough that we all knew each
other pretty well. He was an athlete and a good time guy who made
friends easily. He had a great sense of humor and managed to find
something funny in just about every situation.
last time I saw him was at a class reunion and he seemed to be
the same old Rick I had known in high school. But outward appearances
can be deceiving. After his death I learned he had served as a
helicopter pilot in Vietnam during the war and that his experiences
there had stayed with him for the rest of his life.
had another friend while I was in the Air Force, who became addicted
to Vietnam. I don't mean he had a drug addiction; I mean he was
addicted to the lifestyle of war and danger. He told me he never
felt so alive as when he was there and in the midst of things.
I couldn't understand it but I felt the energy he projected when
he talked about his experiences.
served one tour in Vietnam and came back to the States. He missed
it so much that he volunteered for a second tour. When he got
back from his second tour, his marriage was over. The war had
claimed another casualty, the casualty of his marriage.
we are involved in more wars and conflicts. We have troops in
Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as other locales around the globe.
Some of those who go off to war will return home; some will not.
But all who go and serve will be affected by the place and situations
in which they serve. They might be affected in a way they can
overcome in later life. Still others will bear the physical or
emotional scars for the rest of their lives.
friend Karen Zacharias wrote in her book HERO MAMA about how losing
her father in Vietnam affected her life and the lives of her mother
and her siblings. Her scars couldn't be seen by the naked eye
but there were scars just the same. Now Karen goes around the
country working on behalf of soldiers' families. She is tireless
in her efforts, and I have seen how she personally gives comfort
to those who have been affected by war.
Andy, and Karen are just three people I know personally, who were
impacted by war. Multiply that by hundreds of thousands and you
realize what an impact it has had on my generation and the generations
pains me to think there will always be wars and rumors of wars.
World peace is just a dream. But just think of the price we pay
to have a semblance of peace. And think what shape we would be
in if someone didn't do our fighting for us.
K. Cooper was born in South Carolina and now lives in Georgia.
He is familiar to people living in the middle Georgia area as
the "entertainment man" since his entertainment reviews
run in newspapers and are shown on television there. His short
stories have been used as commentary on Georgia Public Radio.
He also keeps active appearing as an after dinner speaker for
has lived an exceptionally interesting life and portions of it
are contained in his first book Journey of a Gentle Southern
Man. The journey continued in Chances and Choices.
first two books, Journey of a Gentle Southern Man
and Chances and Choices, were reprinted and published
by Mercer University Press in July 2004. His third book Halfway
Home was published by Mercer University Press in October
fourth book, released in 2006, is The Bookbinder.
his website, or email
Jackie K. Cooper