The surgeon who tried to save my soldier father in Vietnam’s Ia Drang Valley still considers July 24, 1966, one of the worst days of his life.
The men who were there that day tell me that my father grabbed Doc’s arm and begged him, “Don’t let me die.” Doc did his best to save my father. I have thanked him for that. Still, he regrets that he didn’t save him, and I hate that he lives with that.
Maybe that’s why I can’t see the movie. When you have experienced firsthand the multitude of ways war wreaks havoc on families, you have little tolerance for the mythmaking that war always seems to invoke. Not to mention the patriotic, almost nationalistic fervor that accompanies a flag-draped coffin.
When my father died there were no crowds gathered at Cowboys Stadium, no JumboTron displaying pictures of the family man my father was, and no front-page stories. There was just a broken family feeling very abandoned by an ungrateful nation.