Diary of a Soldier

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August 29, 1963
My name is Tom Johnson. I am a father, a husband, a son, and a brother, but most importantly, I'm an ex-soldier. I was recently dishonorably discharged from the military because of desertion because I could not handle the horrors of war anymore. I couldn't handle seeing people get blown to bits and shot, or children get napalmed, so I just up and deserted in the middle of a mission. By the time I'd come back everyone had known I'd deserted and they all hated me. Before I even got home, I was isolated by people I'd seen as family. Little did I know, I would be even more alienated and lose my entire family when I got home.

When I got home, my entire town shunned me and spit in my face and called me a pig. I was treated like an outcast. I tried not to let it effect me but my life was not the same after I returned to the United States. People didn't want to come near me and they ignored me. Someone even bagged my tools out of my car. I felt really alone and lonely. All of this depressed me and I felt like I had no one to turn to and talk about my experience with. It's like to them I became a monster instead of coming home as the man that they'd loved before I'd gone to Vietnam. My wife and son even treat me differently. My wife is trying to be more independent because of things she saw in magazines. I don't like the magazines because they make her not listen to me or do anything for me. Her friends are constantly telling her to leave me, even right in front of me. My son gets isolated and bullied in class because I was dishonorably discharged. I used to have so many friends; now they won't come near me. Mostly I just sit at home and read now, and write in this d*mn journal. I've become bitter and angry because of my loneliness and people do not understand me; they do not understand what it means to go over to Vietnam, be treated harshly by locals while you're there and then isolated by the people who were supposed to be your friends, and then come home and be alienated by your real family. Their just ignorant about what I fought for.

So I suppose I tell how my day was. Yesterday Dr. Martin Luther King Junior made a speech in Washington about black struggles or something like that. Sometimes I feel black myself, sharing some of the same struggles that they do. Except nobody cares about soldier's rights, how soldiers are treated, how we feel. It's all about black people and I can't stand it. It's not fair. But I do understand how it feels to be a second class citizen. I know how it feels to get beat by people just because of who I am and things that weren't even my choice. I know how it feels to have my things stolen and vandalized and all that jazz. I just don't understand why that's one race's struggle. That should be everybody's struggle. They also have one thing that I don't have: a sense of family, a feeling of belonging. Most soldiers you talk to are just as lonely and bitter as you are, and that's just depressing. I don't want to be around depressed soldiers. I'm a depressed, lonely soldier myself. I want to be around my family again. I even want to be around my father and the other people who forced me to be a soldier instead of protesting the war like I wanted to. I guess I know how it feels to be black in some ways, but nobody really pays attention to those things, do they?

I should probably write down the flashback I had last night...

Private Thomas Johnson crawled through the rice paddies, his fear increasing with every move. He knew he could easily be killed at any time, but he knew he was being forced to do this anyway for his country. Around him were a few other soldiers, crawling along with him. He wondered if they felt what he was feeling. That sense of fear, worry, that dread that you knew when something was about to happen. He saw smoke in the distance, increasing his feeling of dread and worry. He continued to crawl. At this point he was begging the smoke to just take him and for something to happen so that he didn't have to worry about the inevitability of it anymore.

Finally, it happened. Explosions rocked the ground underneath him, but somehow missed him completely and took out a few guys behind them. He didn't know what to do. All he knew is that he didn't want to die. He couldn't die. He had a wife and son at home. He had to run away...

I wrote it like that because when I have flashbacks I feel like I'm outside my body watching the whole thing. I think that moment was the first moment I actually felt alone.

It's like being in jail, this whole mess of things. Nobody comes to see you, nobody cares how you're doing. All you've got is yourself and that isn't enough sometimes. But if it'd all you've got, it's all you've got, and that's all I've got right now. Right now, I'm packing my things so I can live my life alone. I feel alone at home; I might as well actually be alone. My loneliness is like the ocean, it is deep, dark, and bottomless. I need to just except it and be by myself. My life has been clouded by the black smoke I saw the day I deserted. It's my fear, my uncertainty, my overwhelming desire to hide from the world behind the smoke.

When I close this journal, I will go kiss my wife and son goodnight, knowing I will never see them again Then, I will finish packing and leave, with just this journal as my only friend.





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ladybug94 said...
Nov. 11, 2011 at 7:31 pm
This is really good:)!
 
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