Letters between a soldier and his wife back home during the Vietnam War.
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Brother against Brother, brings to mind the War Between the States. World War One, was called the War to End All Wars, and the Great War, until the Big One. World War Two. The Forgotten War? Korea. Yet, never to be forgotten is Viet Nam, the Hated War. In spite of cries for peace and love, Viet Nam became the war fought in living rooms across America. The mid 1960's saw the beginning of changes in attitudes that would trigger social unrest. Two people, one love, separated by time and distance with a despised war on one side, and growing protests to make love, not war on the other. The epistolary War Written Words is in the form of a series of letters exchanged by the characters, Jeff and Beth Madison during his tour of duty in South East Asia, with the exception of the three chapters at the end.
Beth was proud of herself for making the first leg of the flight to meet her husband without white knuckling on the small plane that took her to O’Hare Airport. She was scheduled to have a layover, and then change planes. The next flight would make one more stop before arriving in California. She had only flown one other time, and that was when Jeff accompanied her home to her parents soon after they met. She smiled at the memory, thinking of how much she’d matured since that trip when she’d given Jeff her virginity, and got pregnant at the same time. She still had no regrets, but was happy that neither of her parents ever mentioned that Jason arrived within eight months of her wedding day. She sat in the terminal thinking of her little boy. She was already starting to miss him. She hadn't been away from Jason since the night she and Jeff slept under the stars at the ranch by the brook on the Fourth of July, the night before he left. She felt a wave of longing for Jeff's body as she recalled that night. Soon, she told herself, soon.
She sat sipping on a cola, watching a large group in the same gate area where she was sitting. There were several little children jumping around, making airplane noises, and laughing. It made her miss Jason even more. She couldn’t hear the conversation of the adults there, but they seemed to be all together, and having a good time, or at least trying to have a good time. There came a voice over the intercom system stating that the flight was going to be boarding soon, and would military passenger Seaman Lyndon Richards please step up to the desk. Beth watched as a fresh faced boy wearing Summer Whites emerged from the center of the crowd of folks that were there to obviously bid him farewell. She couldn’t help but notice that he didn’t have a blemish on his skin, nor did it look like he had even started shaving. She turned her eyes away. After several minutes, she glanced over as he walked back to rejoin his family and friends. There were plenty of hand shakes, and pats on the back. The moment of heartbreak came when he leaned down to hug a small woman that was without a doubt, his mother. Loud sobs came from the woman’s throat that echoed throughout the terminal. Beth felt her own face start to scrunch up, and her throat tighten, recalling her own tears and moans when she felt Jeffrey’s arms release her nearly a full year ago, and walk away. She reached for a tissue to wipe her eyes, feeling this family’s pain at saying good-bye to their son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin, uncle, and friend. It amazed her how one person could be so many things to so many different people. She once again looked at his youthful face. He was much younger than Jeff was when Jeff went overseas. This boy was red faced, and had tears running down his cheeks. Trembling, he let go of his mother, and walked toward the boarding ramp to the plane.
The mother’s sobs could be heard until she was beyond the terminal. Words stating, “The Navy will make a man out of him” gave the woman no comfort at all.