It was summer and I was 5 ½ years old. We had just moved to Alabama but not to an Air Force base. I’d only known life as a military brat, and now something was different. And I don’t mean the gnats. I’d never seen one before and now they were everywhere. Only the breeze could keep them away. That breeze carried the smell of the Gulf. We were near the beach but not right on it. So different from Texas. My parents, my older sisters, a younger brother, me, and a horse named Cameo. We’d moved here near where my dad was from. My mom had lived in Alabama, too. When she first came from England, it was to an Air Force base in Selma. So, now that we were here, why weren’t they happy? There was a cloud over my parents. So tense. Was it my fault? I didn’t understand.
Then they told us Dad was leaving. He’d brought us to where he felt we’d be safe, but I didn’t feel safe. I didn’t understand why he had to leave. Where was Vietnam anyway? Things were different, but I didn’t yet know that this was the end of the life I’d known. That my parents would never be together again and would get divorced as soon as Dad got back. That I would never understand, and that I would spend years thinking it was my fault. That’s how kids are though.
A lot has changed since that summer in 1967. One thing hasn’t…I still hate what that war did to my family.