I have four grandchildren, ages seven to nine. I wonder sometimes what they’ll come to know about their grandfather as they reach adulthood.
The eldest, a little girl named Rhyan, knows the most about me. She attended my presentation at the National Security Agency (NSA) about the fall of Saigon. Marine General Al Gray was there and also spoke. Rhyan was lucky enough to meet him. She asked her mother if she got it right—General Gray saved grandpa’s life? Yep, her mother told her, that’s right.
But the other three were too young to attend the presentation. They presumably know nothing about my history.
One of the sad things in my life is that my children—and therefore my grandchildren—live far enough away from me that I rarely see them. My best hope is that someday the grandchildren will read my books and articles. My novels and short stories are, of course fiction. But all of them, especially Last of the Annamese, are autobiographical and historically accurate. And my nonfiction article, “Bitter Memories: The Fall of Saigon,” lays out in detail what happened to me during that cataclysm. It was reprinted twice after its original publication (most recently in the Atticus Review— http://atticusreview.org/bitter-memories-the-fall-of-saigon/).
So the historical record is there for my grandchildren when they’re old enough to understand. I’m comforted.