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Korean War Anniversary

By Remy Benoit

    I was 4 years old when the Korean War started.    
    I remember the newsreels that brought terrible pictures of terrible cold, death, destruction.

    The grandpop of one of my son's friends served there, doing ID's from dentures. When he came home, well, someone said to him, "Oh, you're  back."  Not exactly a ticker tape parade that.

    So, here we are, all these years later. In a couple weeks, my fourth novel, Loving, will come out from Pharaoh Press.

   In it there are four battle scenes: one from the Meuse Argonne; one from Anzio, a "real life" situation that plagued my deceased father-in-law until he passed on, so that one is for you, Sgt. Tony.
    The third one came from my memories of the Korean snow and was written with my medic buddy, Harry Kieninger. who served at Cu Chi. This one is for you Grandpop Dick, and for all of your buddies who did not hear a resounding Welcome Home at the time.  We thank you for your service. Welcome Home.
    The last scene is in the tunnels at Cu Chi, a place that has been called the most devastated battlefield in the history of warfare.

    To all of you, who served in all these endless wars, thank you for your service, and Welcome Home.

    To those of you in active service, our prayers are with you.          
From Loving:

  “I came here as a part of the infantry.

“When you see that in your mind, somehow you see, or at least I do, lots and lots of men; men bound together in a common cause of stopping the enemy and staying alive.

“Being the kid of a father who fought the Big One, I grew up thinking that when a country fought a war the whole country fought it.
“Just the way I did; doing without sugar and eggs and tires, well, you know. The take your pennies and buy a war bond thing.
"Anyway, always thought of war in big, big numbers of people doing a thing together.

“Well, we are.
“We are all here in this frozen mud, living in the ground like some kind of rodents that farmers shoot to protect their crops. Only we don’t have fur and we can’t tunnel far enough under the ground, under the stinking frozen mud of the ground of this country that doesn’t smell like home, to get far enough under the ground to find any warmth.

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.
“I’m dreaming of sleigh bells like in the movies, though where I come from Christmas’ aren’t white, too warm for snow. Always wanted to try that, the sleigh riding thing.
“I'm dreaming of a white Christmas. >br>
“I see myself as a kid opening all the beautifully wrapped boxes, excitement building so I could hardly breathe. I recall the feel of my first play rifle; how long and sleek and solid its wooden body felt.
“I recall the box next to it held my first six shooter in a fancy holster with those shiny silver-like brad things making me feel like Wyatt Earp, ready to go out and get the bad guys.

“I remember me and my buddies dodging in and out of the narrow streets of the Quarter; hiding just around the narrow corners, knowing just what the enemy looked like, and smelled like, knowing that like John Wayne I would get them because I was the good guy. Might get a little wound; might see a buddy fall, but I would emerge triumphant, avenging his passing and righting all things. Just like in the Westerns, just like raising the flag on Iwo.

“I know from the movie newsreels that the fighting in the Big One was hard, costing a whole lot of lives. This one, this one is more like, I’m thinking, more like the first one. Hey, wasn’t that supposed to be the one to end them all?

“Well, anyway we have more in common here with those trenches in France in the first one. Know too that winters get cold in France; had heard about cold, wondered about white Christmas’, but never knew about cold before.
“Nobody ever told me that cold winter winds have teeth, that they bite into you feeling like they are taking big chunks out of you. I’ve seen how they can blacken toes and fingers right to the snapping off of them.
“Nobody told me about having a grenade pin freeze in place, making it useless or about having to piss on my M-1 to get that warm enough to get it doing what it is supposed to do.

“Where I come from it is the heat and humidity that make you sleepy.
 “Cold does that too.
“You kind of get passed the teeth chattering thing, the shivering, sitting here in the frozen, stinking mud with cold winds numbing your nose and ironically making your eyes burn.
“I know from home that you can get so hot you sort of get the shivers.
“Here it is just the opposite.
“You get so cold, so tired, so tired just from moving your fingers and wiggling your toes so they don’t get frostbite and break off, that you start to feel sleepy warm.

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.
“Christmas is supposed to all green and red and smelling sweet.
“Nothing smells sweet here, no aroma of baking pralines in the air.
“No green.
“Just a white, frozen, hell.
“They told me hell was hot.
“The flames that lick at us here in this white frozen hell, come from enemy guns, searing hot wounds on hell frozen flesh.
“This is hell and it is cold.
“No pralines.
“No green.
“Some red, yeah, red but not Christmas red; not bright, shiny sparkling red like the big bows on Christmas gifts with shiny six guns in them, and full bodied play rifle stocks. Not the red that wraps around with white on candy canes. Not the red of Christmas lights giving a warm, warm glow. Not the red of the poinsettias, those flowers of the Holy Night, on the altar of  the Cathedral.
“No, not that kind of red at all..
This red is dark, kinda purply, sticky  looking, almost black in its redness, and dripped down from the side of my head, onto my shoulder, and down onto my chest, just sitting there like some obscene frozen ice thing made of what used to flow in me.

“The snow is starting to fall again, real light, real pretty. All the years growing up I wanted to see and feel and taste new, fresh falling snow. Always asked to be taken somewhere to taste and see and feel new fresh falling snow on Christmas Eve.
“Folks just weren’t able to get to the doing of that.
“And I am alone; nobody else around; wonder where they all got to.
“Well, they’ll be back, lot of them will get to where I am now; don’t have to worrying about being alone in that.

“Now, what was I saying in the beginning of this thought? Oh, yeah, about always thinking about infantry and large numbers.
“Well, yeah, the thing of it is there are large numbers but the reality of that thing is that each of us going to war goes as a man alone, goes as the man he is. But those of us who get to go home, don’t go home the same man. Even those of us who walk home on both feet, with both arms for hugging, and lips in tact for kissing, and manhood intact for making babies aren’t going home the same man who came with those large, large numbers of other men, but came alone also in his own skin and his own bones, with his own heart damn near pounding out of his chest in fear.

“Know all about that kind of alone.
“But the snow is starting to fall heavier now and I’ve managed to push just the tiniest piece of my swollen tongue far enough passed my cracked and broken lips to find out what I always wanted to know; the taste and feel of new fresh falling snow on Christmas Eve.
“And you know what?
“It is everything I thought it would be, and more. In fact, its chill tastes good because I fell sort of hot right now.

“And I am all alone to enjoy it; alone, except what is that I hear?
“Bells, bells jingling; bells jingling on what sounds like what I’ve only read about before in stories about Russia about a thing called a troika; a three horse sleigh. And I can hear, I can hear the sounds of the hooves of the horses, and I can smell them, and they are alive and breathing hot and heavy with their exhaustion, steam coming full from their nostrils to ice up real quick in this cold, cold air.
“My God, are they coming to take me back home on a three horse sleigh in heavy fresh new falling snow with their bells all ajingling?

“But who, who is coming?
“Troikas are Russian things.
“I’m, I’m getting confused.
“Last war, not this war, Russians on our side.
“Easterners here are Koreans, Chinese, not Russians.
“The Han-guk, the Koreans, don’t have troikas.
“The Chinese have those, those things, that you ride in and men carry about using their bodies like a horse or mule. Can’t think, can’t think of what they called, but it doesn’t matter because they don’t have bells, jingling bells on them anyway.

“But the snow is falling heavy sweet and fresh and new and pure and it is covering up all that dark, frozen sticky, blackish purply stuff that ran out of my head red and down onto my shoulder and chest from inside me and I am getting warm.

“Oh Lord, thank You, thank You for making me feel warm, for a dream come true; the seeing, the tasting, the feeling of fresh new falling snow on Christmas Eve and for sending whoever You are sending to take me home in a three horse sleigh with bells ajingling.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army entered Tibet, 40,000 strong, on October 6, 1950; the small Tibetan army had naught to do but surrender. In May, 1951 a Seventeen Point Agreement was signed by Tibet.
Article One of the Agreement states:
The Tibetan people shall unite and drive out imperialist aggressive forces from Tibet; the Tibetan people shall return to the big family of the Motherland of the People’s Republic of China ( PRC).
Born in 1935, Tenzin Gyatso, enthroned in 1940 as the Dalai Lama, had to flee his native land in 1959 after a suppression of the revolt against the Chinese by his people. He still travels the world, seeking independence for his beloved native land, while spreading
the truths of an ethics for a new millennium, and the simple word, compassion.

     Paul to Corinthians 13: 1-13

And now will I  show you the best Way of all.

  If I speak with the tongues of men and angels, but speak without love, I am no more than booming gong or clanging cymbal. If I can prophecy and fathom all mysteries and knowledge, and if I have so much faith that I can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all possessions to the poor - and even my body that I may but have not love, I gain nothing.

      Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy or boast or think highly of itself. It is not rude. It does not insist on its own way. It does not take offense, nor does it keep any record of wrongs. It bears all things, trusts all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. Prophecy will cease. Tongues will be stilled. Knowledge will fail. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the fulfillment comes, the partial will be done away with. When I was a child, I spoke as a child. I saw as a child, I thought as a child. When I became a man, I put away the things of a child. Now we see as in the distorted reflection of a glass, but then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know as fully as I am known.

For now; faith, hope, and love abide, these three.
But the greatest of all is love.


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