This is the first blog of my life. At age 73, I guess it’s about time. So, bear with me as I dip my toe into the electronic age.
I’m writing about my debut novel, Hawk’s Flight, a book I’ve worked on for more than forty years. I don’t mean that I’ve been writing it for that length of time (it’s actually been only about 5 years off and on); rather I’ve been reading and thinking about the subject matter since the days of my military service.
People encounter stress in a variety of circumstances. In my law practice, I’ve seen it arise out of physical abuse, drug and alcohol addiction and, for some, military service. While we typically think of stress as an adult issue, the experts are also beginning to identify stress related issues among children.
Over the years, I have listened to veterans and their families and watched how they responded to the stress caused by wartime. When World War II ended, soldiers returned to their homes. Combat was finished (in some cases the soldiers had even stayed to occupy the lands of the defeated enemy) and soldiers were welcomed home as heroes, their dead and wounded honored. Soldiers were anxious to start families, get to college, build their businesses and generally cash in on the promises of freedom for which they fought. There was so much future ahead that it was, perhaps, easier to live with their days at war.
When the Vietnam War interrupted our comfortable lives, the politicians who sent the nation’s youth off to another conflict never anticipated the backlash of protest. As the war turned into a slog, they wanted out at any price. For Vietnam’s soldiers, life was the same but different. As technology advanced (along with our military prowess), soldiers could be on the battlefield in a backwater rice field one day and, in some cases, back with their families the next. Pilots often lived with their families on bases away from the combat area. This was made possible by long range aircraft and in-air refueling. Hence, pilots could go to work (i.e. fly combat missions) with the expectation that they would return home the same day. Of course, some didn’t return and were either killed or captured during their missions. Soldiers stationed in-country could leave Vietnam for a few civilized days of R&R, only to be returned to their dire circumstances. From that war, returning veterans came home to public derision and excoriation. For many years, their combat experiences were discounted and there was little public recognition of their service.
The soldier’s environment has even been further confused in our most recent conflicts. Now a soldier can call home and/or Skype to his family after experiencing, on the same day, the most horrific battle conditions. No wonder, then, that our modern soldiers experience post traumatic stress. Separating the ravages of war from the comfort of one’s home (and living in both places simultaneously) has become impossible for many to bear.
Some things have remained constant, however. Soldiers and their families who have endured together, will always bond with each other or at least share an attitude of common respect. Friendship and loyalty are imbedded with patience and healing.
Hawk’s Flight is a fictional account of the effects of war on soldiers and their families. I hope you enjoy it and, if you do, that you recommend it to your friends. If you hate it, then the book will die, a withered vine of the free market. That’s ok - and as it should be.
Either way, writing the book has been an interesting experience. In a future blog, I’ll talk about the process of publishing independently.