I announced here several days ago, in a blog post titled “Boots,” that my combat boots from Vietnam are the subject of a photograph on display at the Palette and the Page, an art/bookshop in Elkton, Maryland. In that post, I included the URL for a Facebook page on the subject, https://www.facebook.com/patti.paulus.7/posts/10214344159217895
I didn’t mention that on display below the photo are the boots, a plaque my men gave me after the fall of Saigon to thank me for getting them and their wives and children safely out of the country before Saigon fell, and a ceramic elephant I bought in Vietnam. But the focus is on the picture of the boots hanging on the wall above those objects.
I find that photograph, taken by Ann Gonzalez-Yager, deeply moving. It speaks of forlornness and loss. The boots, as Ann portrayed them, reflect my own sorrow over the men killed by my side in combat and the final loss of Vietnam in which so many thousands died. The empty boots, sitting side by side, evoke a sense of desolation. If I didn’t know the story behind the photo, I would believe that these are the boots of a soldier killed in combat.
It is as though my own grief is on display.