So there we were, in the middle of the night, on our hands and knees with scrub brushes, steel wool, sponges, scouring powder and buckets of water making the old shop look spic and span. We secured from the task at 0400. I should have hit the rack but instead went topside and out to the canoe, the sacred spot where Lieutenant Goldberg and I had sat together contemplating the why's of life. I was saying farewell in my own way. I wanted to experience the Oriskany for the last time on the high seas. It was still dark – the dark that comes just before dawn. The waning moon, merely a fluorescent nail clipping, hung near the horizon. The night air was crisp; the sky a deep, cold black with pinpoints of stars shimmering through the earth’s canopy. Above me was the endless universe; below me, the deep mystical sea. Large undulating swells gently rocked the ship like a babe in its mother’s arms. Mother Ocean. Father Sky. I meditated upon this new life that I am now obliged to live. I thought about youth. I thought about old age. Apparently bad memories fade away with time and only the moments of goodness and joy remain. Those who are nearing the end of their lives revel in the bliss of yesterday but we the young have this day and tomorrow to contend with. Today, we see the world naked, exposed before our eyes. We see hatred, misery and pain. We find it difficult to live for today. Only the desires for tomorrow’s better world can alleviate the suffering that is today. Only tomorrow can offer us hope that glimmering moments will again materialize. So we continue to exist for a dream, a wish that tomorrow we can say: “This is a day worth living.” Excerpted from God, Bombs & Viet Nam: Based on the Diary of...
Gerald Maclennon Wrestling with Angels: An Anthology of Prose & Poetry 1962-2016 Revised