The 20-foot Snake

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Greg: You watch the news. You hear the body counts. Suddenly, everything took on a new dimension. Reality … I guess it’s called. Del didn’t write a lot, but he did tell us he was wounded in a training accident. I wasn’t until many years later when we heard more of the story. Mostly he sounded pretty miserable and depressed. Once in a while he would send a reel-to-reel tape of a song.

Greg: I thought a lot about the discrepancies in life. I was building up more and more rage about the folly of this war in Vietnam, but I’m doing it from the safety and comfort of a college dorm room where my biggest worry was whether or not I would wake up in time for my econ class.

I hated the war, but I didn’t hate the soldiers. I did hate the fact that most of them were there, because they didn’t have the privileges that I enjoyed with my student deferment. And, honestly, if the deferment went away, I would (admittedly with Daddy’s help) probably find a doctor who would send a letter saying I had flat feet, or something equally flimsy.

This led me more broadly to thinking about human migration. The Brewster family was so proud that they were among the travelers on the Mayflower, but were they brave pioneers for setting off to live in foreign lands. Or, were they kicked out? Were they the losers who lacked the privilege and resources to stay in the homeland?

I haven’t really come up with the answer to that one yet. Once thing was crystal clear … I was the one who stayed, and Del was the one who had to go.

In one of my classes I learned that there are two basic stories in the world: a man sets off on a journey or a stranger comes to town. Which one was which?

I was definitely feeling queasy in my easy chair.

2 thoughts on “The 20-foot Snake

  1. Nice job in summarizing the complex emotional toul of America’s presence in Vietnam. The final song sounds great! Love the crunch of the guitar. Is this a Del or Greg composition?

  2. This is 100% Greg. I love the way the crunchy guitar interplays with the punk rock visuals just before the narrative part. Just two stories in life … those who stay and those who go.

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