Raze for Revival
June 16 1951:
The door opened and he walked in, his face filled with shame and disappointment. My mother ran over to console him but he would have nothing of it, he shoved her away and locked himself in his study with a bottle of scotch. We didn’t see him again for 3 days.
May 13 1964:
I’m 18 years old, I am a man and it’s time to face him and tell him the truth. I walk into the kitchen and find him listening to the radio, eating a piece of burnt toast. “Did you hear about this son?” he asked me “12 boys in New York burned their draft cards in public, what a disgrace”. This couldn’t have happened at a worse time. I was suddenly filled with panic, all the words I had spent months deliberating over escaped me in an instance. “I ah.. I have to go” I raced out of the room.
March 21 1965:
Today is the day, there is a fork in the road and either way I go there is destruction. My father came in the house smiling from ear to ear. “Son!” he exclaimed, “your Grandfather would be so proud of you” in his right hand he was clutching a piece of paper with his vice-like grip. I knew what that paper was, I had been drafted. “This is everything you’ve ever wanted” he said, and at that moment I broke “no dad, this is everything YOU have ever wanted!”, “but every man in our family has served” “ yeah, and look how it turned out for them”, “how dare you, your Grandfather was a hero in WWII”, “Dad you washed out of the army, you can’t tell me anything, I got into Michigan and I’m leaving tomorrow”. He looked visibly distressed but I didn’t care. I went to my room and started to pack my things. We didn’t speak again for 3 years.
October 15 1965:
My roommate had woken me up early this morning, the SDS had organized a protest in the diag. As I sat in my prison cell with all the other protesters I began to contemplate what had gone wrong, we certainly weren't being violent but we had the police sufficiently annoyed. One thing led to another and we were being teargassed and arrested. That got all our names so they could contact relatives. I knew what this meant, he would see it and if he hadn’t disowned me already he certainly would now.
November 10 1953:
“Look at him playing with his little green army men”, “I remember when I played with those as a kid, one day he’s going to grow up to be a hero”. “Don’t talk like that John, he will grow up to be whatever he wants to be and we will love him no matter what”. “I know he will serve, it’s in his blood, all the men in our family have and he won’t be any different”.
July 16 1976:
“congratulations sir, it’s a beautiful baby boy”, my eyes swelled with tears as I held my child. I couldn’t help but think about my father. How could he want something so innocent and perfect to become a soldier and fight in wars? His baby gift was a box of little green soldiers, the same ones I played with growing up. I vowed to never let my son join the army, I had to protect him and be the father mine never was. I would never abandon him like my father abandoned me.
April 20 1982:
“Dad! you are never going to believe what happened at school”, “what happened John?” I asked. “We had army recruiters come talk to us”, “they were so cool, and the army is amazing”. I nearly died right then and there. “son you have to promise me one thing, you can never join the army”, “but why?”, “because I said so thats why”. I watched as he ran up to his room fuming with anger, but I didn’t go up there to console him and that was my biggest mistake.
January 17 1990:
“You did the right thing, he deserved to see his grandson”, “that man doesn’t deserve anything” “don’t talk like that, he’s family”, “barely”. “C’mon John come get in the car”, “bye grandpa”. No words were exchanged and no eye contact was made. “Did you have fun at grandpas’”, “yeah mom we read books and watched tv, he knows alot about the army” as I opened my mouth to speak I realized that my father would have yelled at me in this situation, so I held my tongue.
May 5 1955:
This was the saddest I had ever seen my father, I asked him what was wrong but my mother quickly hurried me to my room. I asked her why my father was so upset and she said in a hushed tone “your grandfather just died, just.. just give your father some time”. An hour later he came into my room “son, your grandfather was very sick, but he’s in a better place now”. “We can rest assured knowing that he left us with the knowledge that his grandson will follow in his footsteps”. I was already having doubts about the army, but how could I tell him now?
July 16 1994:
Today was the day I finally understood how my father felt, my son John had joined the army right after he turned 18. It felt like someone had ripped my soul from my body. To be perfectly honest I couldn’t hate my father anymore, not after this. All this pain and agony, it’s no wonder he broke like that when I didn’t join the army. I was never a religious man, but I prayed to god that my son didn’t die serving. I realized that by pushing him to not join I had caused him to want to so bad, just like my father had done to me.
January 1 2000:
Today was the start of a new millenia, I only wished I could have spent it with my son, we received our customary postcard from wherever he was stationed just like we get every holiday. John had steadily progressed through the ranks in the 6 years he had served. He was now a colonel. FOr the first time I felt proud that my son was in the army. He was a hero Just like my grandfather and...his grandfather.
March 5 2005:
As I sat in that hospital room with my father, I couldn’t help but wonder whether all those years of fighting and hostility had caused the cancer to develop so aggressively. He only had an hour left maybe less, but he had lived remarkably long for a man in our family. Suddenly he awoke, he told me to come close “Son… I.. I forgive you”, I was stunned but not surprised “I forgive you to dad” for the first time in months he truly looked happy. His eyes closed and I knew it was time, he died a happy man with a son who loved him.
May 24 2007:
Today was perhaps the happiest day in my life, John had retired from active duty in the army. He had taken a position in the defense department in Washington D.C. He could spend more time with his wife and kids. He had two boys, who were now 3 and 5. They came to visit quite often, nothing made me happier than knowing my son had the life I always wanted for him. Hopefully he wouldn’t make the same mistakes as his father and grandfather.
March 10 2015:
As I lie here in this hospital bed reminiscing about the past, I felt a happy that I had reconciled my relationship with my father and my son. He had left the room to go get something to eat. I realized that with all my years of bitterness and hatred I had forgotten all the good times I had with my father, he had been so nice to me. I was just as responsible for what happened as he was. It was after this realization that a tunnel appeared before me. I was no longer in the hospital, and I could walk without pain. I saw a warm light radiate from the end, with no hesitation I stepped forward.
February 13 1960:
As I got off the bus my father was waiting for me, he had a big grin on his face. “Son I have a surprise for you” suddenly hurled his car keys to me, “c’mon lets go for a ride”. My face exploded into a smile “really dad?” “sure”. I put the key into the ignition and turned, the engine roared to life “woah”, “alright now gently press down on the accelerator” the car lurched forward “easy there bud” we drove until dark, it was the happiest day of my life.
This story is dedicated to my wonderful family