Charle Haughey's Vietnam War Photo

It was last month.  I don’t recall the day.  Just another weekday.

Off to work.  Barreling down I-95. Same route.  Each day.  Autopilot.  Not Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness.  Simple Mindlessness.

Flicking through iPod.  Can’t settle on a band or a tune.  Restless.

Foot heavy on accelerator.  Glance at speedometer.  Pushing your luck Pal.  Only a matter of time.  And you’ll earn it. (Again.)

Traffic backs up at Stamford exits as morning rush hour builds.

A black Chevrolet pick-up swings into my lane.

The iconic orange, white and black Harley logo on rear window.

Left hand bumper is adorned with a frayed sticker: 1968-1972: Marines. Vietnam Vet.

I stare.

Connecticut Plate 123JAR.

What does JAR stand for?

Baseball cap. No passengers.  He’s alone.

Do you have family?  A wife?  Children?  You look alone.  And lonely.

Tail lights flash around me.  Traffic slows to 20 mph.  Eyelids heavy.  Blink to refocus.  My 4:30 am standard moving to 3:30 am.  What is it?

Are you able to sleep?  Do you have nightmares?  The cold sweat-kind?  

The Chevy cuts to the center lane.

I’m running through my mental checklist. Morning meetings. Overdue deliverables.  To Do’s. Projects.

Do you get mid-day flashbacks?  The kind where you need to pile drive pleasant thoughts in to cope?

His right-hand turn signal flashing.  He switches lanes.

I follow into the center lane and accelerate.  Hoping to get a look into the cabin.  See his face.  Make a connection.

I pull up adjacent to the cab.

He turns his head right.  The truck emits a puff, then a plume of blue exhaust. And he exits down the ramp.

Gone.  Without so much as a glance.

Connection lost.

One month later, the moment lingers.  Hovers, on this Memorial Day Weekend.

Here’s my thanks to you Friend.  My gratitude.  I hope you find Peace.

Image Source: – Charlie Haughey Vietnam War Photos

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  1. Steven Reiff says:

    my guess is that he is a “jarhead” – marine. no marine is ever a former marine – 123rd is aviation marines, air combat wing. close in support of grinders on the ground.


  2. JAR probably = Jar Head. Marines sometimes call each other that. Or us it others who use the nickname? Of course it could be a randomly assigned plate – but that’s doubtful, right? (Another fine piece of writing by the way)


  3. Thanks to all who serve our Country……Peace.


  4. Oh, David…this one means so much. People have no idea the sacrifices that are made…that last a lifetime. The answer to so many of the questions floating through your mind on that day is undoubtedly…yes. We should all feel grateful to so many whose lives have either been lost or affected in such a way that they will carry with them through all the rest of their days the horror of what they had to go through. My wish too is that these extraordinary souls find peace.


  5. Beautiful post David. Yes, for way too many there is no peace. This year we celebrate the 5th anniversary of one of my daughter’s best friend’s death. He was kill in Afanastan on Memorial Day. The family struggles daily.


  6. A wonderful tribute full of empathy and compassion. He, they, we feel the peace you are sending. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo


  7. Steven Reiff says:

    Lot of friends are Marines. People you could count on personally and in business. And someone on the battlefield who died for me, and you – but especially for a fellow Marine. Benghazy would not have happened if Obama was a Marine, or he had called the Marines.
    Semper Fi – always faithful


    • What a feeling it must be to have a troop of Marines at your side, and watching your back. Yes, and many paid the ultimate sacrifice. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Steve.


  8. Another beautiful piece of writing, David. Isn’t it amazing how a chance encounter can leave such an indelible mark on one’s soul? My little brother is a plastic surgeon in the Air Force. He’s done two overseas tours–one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Even though he wasn’t *quite* on the front lines, I nevertheless worried each time he deployed. I know that the stress and horror of what he witnessed will stay with him always. No matter how many times one says “Thank you for your sacrifice,” it never seems like enough. Your tribute is lovely…


  9. God bless us..


  10. Yes.


  11. This one hit home, David. My brother…my wonderful, funny, sweet, brave big brother….fought in Vietnam. I mean fought. Came back a different person. Forty some years later, the darkness has lifted and the light is back. But it took a long, long time for him to come home – far more than the two years he served.

    Memorial Day is not only a day for picnics and cookouts. Take a minute to remember those who didn’t come home.


  12. Thank you all for the reminder. I often take so much for granted.


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