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***The 3417 project, Dog Tags, and TWO ten year old Brats!

by Willy Boroski

….At The Texas Vietnam Memorial celebrating the 3,417 Texas Soldiers who died in Vietnam on 3,417 dog tags!

The LBJ Library, Austin, Tx

A large room with marble floors, My son couldn’t resist but to touch the dog tags, and Oh My did it chime!

Like the sound of tears clanging together….

IT WAS BEAUTIFUL!

My father became one of the 3417 in 1969- And I wanted to show my 10 year old Brat this wonderful exhibit and his grandfathers name/dog tag.

This was my 2nd visit (with my son)… And loved it!

The first time I went alone…. What a day!

(Me) Looking for his name…

.. It was so quiet in there,

the names were like gibberish to me as I searched for His name….

and there it was-

Capt. Anton W. Boroski.

It was low to the ground- so I was on one knee when I noticed I was sobbing…. I couldn’t get up…. so… I just knelt there and rested for a while…

I prayed and talked to my Daddy- Like I was 10 (my age when he died) and hoped he could hear me…

All I could say was that I hoped he was proud of me…. like he always said to me….”Go make me proud Willy”!

And then I thought of my own son – now 10 years old- And hoped he too was proud of me…

I whispered and wept like that 10 year old boy inside me, kneeling – almost hiding…for quite a while!

…My tears/sounds/whispers were echoing off all the walls and ceilings, that started to sound like spirits blending together in an oddly peaceful noise.

I was almost in a trance, dizzy, – touching this amazing exhibit of the names of long dead men that left behind thousands of brats… It was beyond breath taking! I felt like I was laying in my bed crying back in 1969 when the telegram came…

“We regret to inform you………”

NOOOOOOOOOO! My little self yelled as I ran to my room, flying through the air on to the bed! Someone followed(are you ok)?

LEAVE ME ALONE! I screamed! Daddy Daddy Daddy Daddy… Dadd. Dad.. Da.. D … ZZZZZ I passed out from a broken heart!

On my knee many years later – I almost passed out as that 10 year old boy!

Again!

Suddenly in the LBJ Library a loud huff and deep breath of my sobs echoed and snapped me and the room back to life.

I was still on one knee, crying, holding my Dad’s dog tag in my hand, when I noticed my reflection in it – Very shiny/polished – I saw my reflection (my eyes/nose)-

And I could see him! DADDY?

Shocked I said out loud “Daddy”, and then realized it was me. I let it go and watched it swing back and forth in slow motion, until it was completely still…

I wiped my eyes (and nose) with my shirt sleeve (like all 10 year olds do)- and felt a strange peace knowing that my Daddy was in me, his eye’s his nose etc…

When I stood up, I moaned and knees cracked.

Then I noticed I wasn’t alone-

Click, click, click

Several people had gathered and were taking pictures of me…

Camera’s and cell phones out…

At first I was embarrassed – then annoyed!

“Take a picture it’ll last longer” right?!!!!!!!!

So I walked away – but had to pass them…when I did their heads dropped and turned!

And then I heard that noise again bouncing off the marble and ceilings..

One lifted their head and I noticed the tears in her eyes… Then all of them.

They were crying with me!

– And they were still crying -They were those spirits in the rafters.

…some Japanese students (Girls), a crying lady with a stroller and sleeping baby with her hand over her mouth, A man in a wheelchair being pushed by a nurse looking lady, but mostly people my age- including a long haired bearded guy with patches all over his jacket next to a soldier in BDU’s….

Maybe they too were brats? Why else were they there… Is all I thought.

They huddled in one spot to disappear? Or maybe to give me my space…

I think the aesthetic distance was too close for them, but they couldn’t leave either!

I walked away with my head down…. no one said a word… As I passed them their group split up and walked to the 3417 dog tags.

Two elevators and going home!

I walked down the stairs and into the lobby and noticed at the long glass ticket counters…

Everyone was standing still and staring at me as I walked out the front door (in slow motion).

I got about 20 feet into the bright sun and fast cool breeze, when the door opened and an older woman called out to me…

“You Who- Young Man” I must have forgotten something (checking my pockets)

I walked toward her as she said “I am sorry to intrude but who was that name/dog tag to you?”

“My Father”, I said

Ok thank you – she turns and walks-

I asked- How did you know what Exhibit I came to see, There must me 4 or 5 floors of stuff in there.

Then she said – We watched you (and those others) on the monitors – Trust me son there is not a dry eye in the building… And I Thank You for a perfect day!

Oh! (is all I said) as I turned to walk to my car…

I don’t really remember the walk, but here is the last thing I do remember before I drove away!

…Adjusting the rear view mirror to back out – I saw that eye and nose again…

And I stopped crying and felt Love – real love from my Dad -Love I haven’t felt since he hugged me last!

….I couldn’t wait to get home and share that love with my 10 year old son…

The old lady was right…

It was a perfect day Indeed!

Thanks Daddy! I love you More!

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