Living as an Historical Figure

I alerted readers earlier to the article in the June 12 Cecil Whig about the Maryland Public Television travelling exhibit on the sixteen Vietnam veterans it featured in its documentary last year. The article, titled “Wound of the Soul,” also told my story, which led in the writing of Last of the Annamese, because I was scheduled to do the fall of Saigon presentation on June 22 at the Perryville Library, where the exhibit is being shown. You can read the text of the article at  The printed version included two additional photos—one of my daughter, Susan, and me in 1964 in Saigon, and one of me ten years later in Saigon.

This article, by Joe Antoshak, was the third on me to appear in local newspapers. The Columbia Flier and the Howard County Beacon had both done cover stories on me earlier, and the text of the story in the Flier also appeared in the Baltimore Sun. I was especially honoured by the Cecil Whig story because the paper is one of the oldest in the U.S. It was founded in 1841. I feel like I’m a part of history.

That sense of history made me feel a little less resentful about recurring references to Last of the Annamese as an “historical novel.” The story, after all, did occur in my lifetime. But maybe it’s all right to be alive and be considered an historical figure at the same time. Maybe I’ll get used to that.

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