The reviews and endorsements of Last of the Annamese underline the sorrow I express in the book over the fall of Vietnam. They have it right. My memories hurt. At the beginning and again at the end of the novel, the protagonist, Chuck Griffin, asks himself, “Do all memories have to hurt?”
For me they do. I’ll never cease grieving over the 2700 South Vietnamese soldiers who worked with my organization who were then left behind to face the North Vietnamese. I’ll always remember with pain the two U.S. Marines killed when the gate of our compound was hit. I’ll never get over the deaths of two of my staff members, Americans, who later killed themselves.
And that, frankly, is all to the good. Wounds to the soul never heal. Only forgetting would allay my pain. And forgetting would be unforgivable.