Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

War and Rumors of War

Jackie K. Cooper


When 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.

This 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.

The 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.

I 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.

Andy 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.

Now 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.

My 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.

Rick, 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 to come.

It 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.

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Jackie 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 various events.

Cooper 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.

Jackie's 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 2004.

Cooper's fourth book, released in 2006, is The Bookbinder.

Visit his website, or email Jackie

© Jackie K. Cooper

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012