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Douglas C. Hoyt

"Am I shallow or just trying to forget?"

Today is Memorial Day. Until a few minutes ago, I did not think why it is Memorial Day. To me, as most Americans, Memorial Day is a holiday with BBQ’s celebrating the “first day of summer.” Do I really want to remember the dead?

The very first mission I flue (I was a warrant office helicopter pilot) in Vietnam was in July 1969. The war was very much active, indeed, causalities were increasing. On this first mission we shot and killed a baby of a few months. It was a “collateral damage” killing. (I know that we killed the baby because after the village was “secured” we were requested to land for a medivac. We took the mother and the child to a hospital. It was shot through the chest with a .308 Winchester magnum bullet. Not a pretty sight, even with bandages on the wound.) We were supporting a ground operation of a “suspected” Viet Cong village. We took machine gun fire from somewhere in or near the village. Policy was to return fire. I suppose you could call it self-defense, but I would like to see a bank robber use that defense in the US. No one would buy it.

In my two tours, we caused death; we picked up death, delivered death, rescued from death, death, death, and death. It was all promiscuous death.

Now I have to remember death again. My fathers death, my mothers death, the death of all my uncles, the death of Mark John Robertson who was shot down and died while taking my mission one week before I returned from the death of Vietnam. He may still be in the Ashau Valley near the Laos border, but he is dead, anyway. I have to remember Robertson’s AO (aerial observer) who died with him. He (I don’t know his name) was to go home in two weeks to his wife. I do remember he just returned from R and R in Hawaii with his wife when death visited him. I have to remember the body bags of dead Americans and Vietnamese soldiers we would fly back from the bush. I did not fear death then. Death and I were good buddies.

I have been thinking about the meaning of death, if one can say death has an understandable meaning? We can all think of this: you will be extinct upon death. I know most people don’t think we end at death, but I submit, no one has proved otherwise. Therefore, it can be safely assumed that death is the end of this conscious. I don’t understand any other conscious; that concept is irrational. So death is an end; but death has no meaning that we will understand. This makes life absurd. And death is the state of our non-state? Death makes no sense, as life, death is absurd.

Today, I throw another steak on the BBQ. Cook some other stuff for the family, eat of our predation, and understand that life and death are absurd, as we wait for death, if not think of it.

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