Last Saturday, I participated in the American Legion Flea Market in Columbia, Maryland. I was among the twenty-odd vendors offering their wares to visitors. I had copies of three of my four novels for sale.
I was right at home. Many of my fellow American Legion members are Vietnam veterans. I share with them an unspoken understanding of what it’s like to risk your life for your country only to be spat upon and shamed when you return to the world—what we called the U.S.
And my books were on point. Last of the Annamese is about the fall of Saigon which I survived; The Trion Syndrome is about a Vietnam vet suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI); and No-Accounts tells of a straight man caring for a gay man dying of AIDS, volunteer work I did at the height of the AIDS crisis to help me cope with my PTSI.
In short, I was where I belonged. Many of the members have read my books, and I’ve done my presentation on the fall of Saigon twice for the post over the years. So characteristic of the unspoken brotherhood was the insistence by one member that I wear his billed cap to protect me from the sun. We brothers take care of one another.