While we were fishing for Chinook – – –
Someone who lives on the lonely road between Hebo and Valley Junction keeps a tally of our service men and women who have died far from home, in Iraq or Afghanistan.
I don’t know the person who keeps this tally of lives shattered, don’t know the sign keeper’s story, but I suspect that their life has been deeply touched by this war. I imagine that the sign-keeper maintains this count with love and sorrow; perhaps anger too. I just don’t know.
I have driven past this sign in sun, rain, and storm for years now, on my way to and from the coast. I don’t remember the number from each passage, but I know the number continues to grow.
I remember my father, an amateur radio operator (W7CYF, I think), devoting countless hours (days, weeks, months, years) making radio connections between gravely wounded soldiers on hospital ships off the coast of Vietnam with family members stateside.
A veteran of WW II and Korea, my father was deeply disturbed by the Vietnam “conflict.” He obsessed over these broken and maimed lives in an undeclared war he saw as — – – – – – .
I don’t really have a clear and complete picture of what he thought, because we never really had a complete, sober conversation about Korea, or Vietnam. I do know that he saw a difference between WW II and Vietnam. I can only imagine how he viewed these “wars” by piecing together many small pieces of his tearful stories like a quilt
Most probably, the number on this sign will be higher when I next trek off in pursuit of salmon.
This sign reminds me that men, women, and children of many nations, many faiths, are dying each day, in declared and un-declared wars around the world, while I work, or spend time with my family, or just go fishing..
Post Script: As I trudge home after another Chinook fishing adventure, daydreaming about flies, hooks, lines, salmon, friends, and my family, I see that the number has indeed marched ahead.