Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Reunion~

When women run out of conversation before their husbands do, and the men wipe tears from the corners of their eyes, something powerful is happening.

Bruce and I attended the reunion of former Marines who graduated from The Basic School at Quantico in 1967 before shipping off to the steamy jungles of Viet Nam. It provided a catharsis for long buried feelings.

It had been forty-one years since the newly commissioned officers were sent to face the stench, the sights, and sounds that the best of training couldn't fully prepare them for. Stateside fear was only a shadow compared to the terror of what lay camouflaged ready to spring.

But they'd been trained well, these Marines. Fear would get them killed, so they ignored it, stuffed it deep inside where it hardened like a concrete plug keeping so many other feelings trapped inside as well. Survival trumped emotion. Decisions were made by the mind, not the heart.

It had been forty-one years since most of these men had seen one another. Hair has grayed, gaits have slowed, and bellies hang over belts. But the same indomitable spirit-- albeit tempered by experiences no human should face-- remains. The same laugh, the same twinkle in the eye, the same firm handshake erased forty-one years in an instant.


As the men shared memories most had not stirred up for decades, the concrete plug began to soften, and emotions found a way up and out with the tears that flowed along with their laughter.

And the wives? We shared laughs . . . and tears, too, for no one was left untouched by that war, even if it was only experienced through letters and the TV in a living room so long ago.
~~~~~
When our memories outweigh our dreams, we have grown old. ~Bill Clinton
~~~~~

17 comments:

Patty said...

Wonderful post! My ex was in the Navy and joined about the same time. He did his time in Viet Nam too. I am betting that this time the men spent together was very healing for the spirit. That war was such a sad one (as all wars are). It is good that they can see that life did indeed go on.
God Bless them all.

'JoAnn's-D-Eyes'NL said...

Hello Ruth, wonderfull to see people back a Reunion is great:)
Happy ABC greetings from JoAnn (holland)

Ida said...

Great R.
A happy Reunion - after so many years.

My R

John said...

Wonderful post and great choice for R, lovely photos too!

Janice Thomson said...

An emotional post Ruth - perhaps now healing will begin for some of these heroes - it's never too late is it.
Wonderful idea for the R theme and a perfect follow-up to the Q theme.

Lisa said...

Ditto to what Janice said. Beautiful post, Ruth. I'm glad the reunion went well.

Judy said...

This is a wonderful R post. Looks like everyone had fun.

Petunia said...

I guess you had a really good time:)
Great post!
Petunia's ABC

Daryl said...

Fabulous R!

:-Daryl

Neva said...

What a great post! It looks and sounds like it was a great reunion!! good choice for today.

mrsnesbitt said...

Wonderful! Such a moving post!

sc morgan said...

This was wonderful post, Ruth. I'd forgotten you were about to go on the trip.

My husband says that it was always the guys about to go home, the ones who started thinking about family and girlfriends, who got killed. Concrete plugs?... or survival skills.

sc morgan said...

This was wonderful post, Ruth. I'd forgotten you were about to go on the trip.

My husband says that it was always the guys about to go home, the ones who started thinking about family and girlfriends, who got killed. Concrete plugs?... or survival skills.

Bob Sanchez said...

Ruth, your husband and his fellow Marines gave so much to this country, and the rest of us have never appreciated this fact.

I just finished watching an old James Caan movie, Gardens of Stone, about a burial unit at Arlington National Cemetery. It was set in the about the same time Bruce was there. Many young men sacrificed everything.

Your blog post does them justice, my friend.

Bob Sanchez said...

By "there," I meant Vietnam.

leslie said...

I'm so happy it was a successful reunion and the men were able to bond again with those who survived and shed a tear for those who did not. That war impacted us in Canada, too, and I remember being in university at the time, hearing about all the anti-war rallies going on below the border. Thank God our Canadian soldiers didn't have to participate in that war. And I honour the Americans who did.

Tere said...

Very touching. "Concrete plugs" - such and accurate description. Sounds like the reunion was good for all.