I spent Memorial Day trying to get the prologue to Mark’s book right. Like any good writer, I managed a dozen words, deleted seven of them, and then checked Facebook. But my newsfeed was filled with official announcements … “we pause to remember …” and I would think, “who is ‘we?’ Veterans don’t ‘pause’ to remember anything. From veterans the message is ‘never a day goes by …'” and then I would have to go back to the writing and try to make it fit the task and not get overwhelmed by the very gap between civilians and veterans I was trying to write about.
When I asked Mark who he thought the audience is for his book he said, ‘oh, the guys I served with in Vietnam, maybe Daniel and Elizabeth’ (my children). In other words, a small and tight circle. I want more. Having worked with this story for many months I see the value of the writing, the window onto the daily life of an infantryman in a long-ago war that we (and here I mean the inclusive ‘we’) have not been able to put to rest. Among the readers I hope this book will find, I want civilians. I hope the book will reach my generation, the one that came of age during that war. And then perhaps the younger generation that may not have been taught anything about the Vietnam War in school because no one knew how to teach it. I want people who – like I used to be – want nothing to do with war because they think that is the best path to peace. I want people who are willing to read and to come away with something that they will share back with us and we can have a conversation that will include all of us.
I have revised the prologue many times. Twice my trusted readers have told me: not there yet. Maybe today. Better something imperfect than that it never be finished at all. It’s time.