This is the story of Juan

Juan was born in 1985 in a small community in southwestern Michigan.
When Juan graduated high school in 2003 he immediately joined the military. His mother and father were somewhat distraught by this decision.
They had watched him grow from a rambunctious toddler into an adolescent with normal adolescent problems. And then to a slightly rebellious teen. He got into no more trouble than the average teen of his time but, he did get into trouble. Just enough to keep mom and dad on the edge of losing it. 😉
Juan had a high school sweetheart, Connie. Connie was extremely distraught with the news. She had expected to eventually marry Juan. They would have a family and a little house with a white picket fence and live happily ever after. Perhaps a childhood fairy tale.
Juan’s proudest achievement in high school wasn’t the fact that he played point guard for the varsity basketball team. No, his proudest achievement was working at the chicken place after school and saving enough money to buy a 1997 Chevrolet Impala SS. Juan loved his car and he and Connie spent many a night on the back roads of their small community doing what teenagers in love do best.
Connie’s parents looked on these late night drives with trepidation, Juan’s not so much. Must have been the old sexist thought “boys don’t get pregnant.”
Both sets of parents loved their children and enjoyed them immensely.
Now, Juan was to graduate from high school, and his parents were happy, he was showing the maturity of a young adult and they hoped to continue watching him grow into complete manhood.
So as mentioned, they were somewhat distraught when he told them he was joining the military. He was leaving just as he became a true joy to be with again.
But, it was only a few years since 9/11 and Juan felt it was his duty to go and fight for his country.
“My sweetest Consuela, do not worry I will go and serve my country and return to your open arms.” Juan whispered in her ear as he kissed her goodbye. Connie wept, not all too silently.
It wasn’t but 3 months later when the MPs came to the house. They brought the bad news families of military men and women lay awake at night fearing.
At 19 years of age Juan is dead.
They told the family Juan had died in battle fighting for his country and is a hero. And the family wept.
Later some members of the platoon Juan was with on his fateful day will offer some sketchy details of his death. They say he was on foot behind an armored Humvee when an IED blew up, knocking him unconscious to the ground. Small arms fire was coming from the surrounding buildings and the driver slammed the vehicle into reverse running over Juan causing instant death.
Juan’s body was returned to the family under the cover of silence.
The pentagon encouraged patriotic demonstrations when troops left for the war and also when they returned after their tour. Demonstrations with flags waving, bands playing and perhaps even local television coverage.
But returning corpses came back in silence, bad PR for sure.
There was a military funeral for Juan with all the pomp and circumstance ending with the folded flag being handed to a sobbing mother. Connie wept with her. Dad held them both close in sharing their grief.
But, Juan is dead.
As time goes by people learn to live with their losses and go on with their lives.
But not Juan, Juan is dead. And Juan will be dead forever. Juan will not be coming back, not tomorrow, not the next day or even the next year, Juan is gone forever.
In the summer the family gets together for their Fourth of July picnic. They have a good time, they eat potato salad and hot dogs and beans. They play games and light sparklers and fireworks.
Juan will never have potato salad and hot dogs and beans again, Juan will never play games again or light sparklers and fireworks. Juan is dead.
Juan will never return to Connie’s open arms, Juan is dead.
Juan will never experience the joy of waiting for Connie as she walks down the aisle, Juan is dead.
Juan will never have a little house with a white picket fence, Juan is dead.
Juan will never push his child on a swing in the playground, Juan is dead.
Juan will never teach his son to hit a baseball or catch a pass, Juan is dead.
Juan will never experience the joy of watching his children grow to adulthood, Juan is dead.
Juan will not be able to say goodbye to his parents as they leave this world, Juan is dead.
Yes my friends, at 19 years old Juan has experienced all the joys and agonies of life he will ever experience, Juan is dead and he is dead forever.


2 thoughts on “This is the story of Juan

  1. This is an old story, Larry. In the 1960s, before Juan was born, I lived with my young family in a neighborhood in North Lansing. A young man named Clarence delivered my newspaper every day. When the weather as good, it was a bright spot in your day to see Clarence coming down the sidewalk with a bag of papers over each shoulder, on his unicycle. Clarence went to Vietnam right after high school. He came back in a box, on a plane with no windows.
    Like Juan, it is hard to forget him. We need to find better ways to get along with other nations than sending our young men to die.

    Liked by 1 person

    • K E Decilon, Thank you for your input. My Juan is a fictional character. I made up to just point out the losses created by our warring society. Yours is much more heartfelt and the close hits the nail on the head.
      Thanks again.


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