The futility and horrors of war

Death had come to the neighborhood.

It came on a summer day. Lawnmowers and radios fell silent. Wiffle balls ceased to be hurled at plastic bats. The Davis boy had been killed in Vietnam. It was the day of his funeral. The soldier assigned to be with the family came out upon the arrival of the military escort. People young and old stood without words on stoops, lawns and curbs. The parents came out of their home to take their only son to his grave. Vehicle doors opened and closed. The procession left for the cemetery. The quiet lingered as if the neighborhood was a silent film. The aftermath saw his mother unable to let go of her boy’s blue convertible. It sat in the garage.

The passing of a half century has not diminished my remembrance of that day.

Questioned about the fairness of sending reservists to Vietnam, President Kennedy said, “There is always inequity in life. Some men are killed in a war and some men are wounded and some men never leave the country. Life is unfair.”

One can allow for the rain falling on the just and the unjust, but it remains hard to reconcile this tragedy with those who successfully avoided Vietnam. Perhaps they believed it was an unjust war. There is merit to that view. Merit, though, cannot unring history’s bell in which some men secured their futures while other men lost their futures a long way from home. A long way from where a blue convertible was parked and unused.

JACK STRAFFORD

Lynchburg

Always an enlightening read

The News & Advance is a daily must-read for me. It consistently calls to mind under used or long-forgotten words.

In reading in the July 10 issue about our City Council’s housing shortage debate, Councilman Beau Wright’s contribution made me recall a wonderful word: unctuous. Please look it up, it will be demonstrated ad nauseam on all sides during the latest political writhing.

JOHN PICKFORD

Lynchburg

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