Following the Rabbit to War

Unlike Alice, there is no awaking from the dream, no relief in sanity, just the harsh reality of life; plastic soldiers ...

Summary

Unlike Alice, there is no awaking from the dream, no relief in sanity, just the harsh reality of life; plastic soldiers melt, card castles collapse and boys march off to war.

Story

As a kid growing up in one of the fog shrouded districts of San Francisco, I spent a lot of time by myself. Our two-story stucco house supported on each side by the adjoining homes had one great redeeming factor, a large back yard. It was there I spent many hours lost in a world of imagination and fantasy. There were creatures to be caught, princesses to save and wars to be fought. Like Alice following the rabbit through the Wonderland woods, I was curious about war. My back yard battles consisted of taking a well-armed castle constructed of an abandoned deck of playing cards. It was surrounded by a watery moat, hand-dug in the soft dirt and guarded by my mixed collection of plastic G.I. figures. I would always wonder how they could shoot straight with those curved rifle barrels. Even my stepfather’s anger about the holes in the back yard did not deter me from staging battle after battle. I was preparing myself because I knew that one day I would be going to war. I even knew how I would act the very first time I was under fire and could hear the shells exploding around me. It was almost a calming realization that I would not be afraid. I was nine years old at that time.

Years later, walking alone down an airfield in Vietnam past a row of Huey helicopters tucked in for the night, I thought about those lost days of my youth. I had followed the mysterious rabbit, and true to the tale, I had encountered the realm of marvel and madness. Sights that to this day haunt me, visions of greatness and sacrifice that humble me.

Unlike Alice, there is no awaking from the dream, no relief in sanity, just the harsh reality of life; plastic soldiers melt, card castles collapse and boys march off to war.

I discovered what drove the rabbit mad.

Tags

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.

– General George Patton

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