Reflections on Coming Home
and Afterward
By Allen V. Genco

I looked down the good old block of the city where I grew up, trying to find a familiar face. It was my mother on her way to work. She screamed, cried, and hugged, waking up the neighborhood. My father, uncle, aunt, and sister cried as well. Oh yes I was happy to be home, to be alive. Yet I found it hard to adjust -- sleep in a bed, wear underwear, eat with utensils, take a shower and shave. No, donít get me wrong, these were the parts of myself that reassured me. Vietnam and my brothers will always be with me.

I have had a successful career retiring after 21 years when I became involved in all types of community groups. But deep in my soul, on those quiet peaceful nights, Iíd look up and wonder how my brothers were, where life had taken them. Would we ever meet again in this lifetime? I always thought of Ike Smith, and prayed that he was safe. Our chats in Vietnam gave me the courage, fortitude, and will to go on. Men came no fairer than Ike.

And now years later that soldier never dies. No matter where you go your blood and soul is a soldier. When 911 happened, my response was automatic, for I was down at the towers helping whatever way I could. That lasted two weeks, but truly it was a connection to Vietnam. I was, am, and swill die a soldier.

Allen V. Genco