Jean-Claude Vincent’s ParentsOnly other mothers who have lost a son or daughter in combat can ever fathom the pain and suffering produced. The death of my brother in 1969 sent my mother into a tailspin of despair that she has never recovered from. This simple woman could never comprehend the decisions made in Washington that sent her son to Vietnam. All she knew was that she would never be able to touch, talk to and about, nurture, or enjoy her son’s life again. Like a shadow on a cloudy day, she could lose the pain for a short time, but like the shadow, the pain would always return. Vietnam is her cancer and there is no cure.
Christmas of 1989, the last time my dad was at my house – he died in 1990 – he started carrying on about Vietnam vets, I guess they had some Vietnam vets at his VFW post that were pretty rowdy, a lot of these guys were bikers and what have you, and so Dad kind of looked at all of them that way and was making some derogatory remarks and I was sitting there and I go, “Dad, did you forget, I am a Vietnam vet?” For a long time, we had a lot of hard feelings between us and it wasn’t until he was about ready to die that we could get things straightened out. Thank God that situation cleared up and the feelings cleared up beforehand; it would have been tough for me to live with it, to have argued with my dad like that. Like I said, that was the last time he was ever at my house.
I’m hoping that what I’m saying will help people understand that for most of us, the war will never be over. What we’ve learned to do, though, is put it into some sort of perspective, go on with our lives and try to build on the things that we’ve learned out of our war experiences. And that is something, I hope, that I can convey to everyone I come in contact with, that I’m a combat wounded veteran that just wants people to understand. I don’t want sympathy or pity. I just want understanding.
©Copyright October 10, 2002 by Jean-Claude Vincent
Author’s Note: Dedicated to Mike Roy and Martin Dunbar