The essay I'm referring to was published in Esquire in November of 1984. Surprising that I just stumbled on it now, isn't it? Broyles ran into his old radio operator while visiting the Vietnam Memorial some 15 years after he had returned from Vietnam, and his friend's pronouncement sparked the reflections that turned into the essay.
"What people can't understand," Hiers said, gently picking up each tiny rabbit and placing it in the nest, "is how much fun Vietnam was. I loved it. I loved it, and I can't tell anybody."The rest of the essay is a great read on the conflicting emotions that inexorably attract us to war. I found a lot of the article resonates deeply with me - I may not enjoy the patrols in 120 degree heat or cringing every time someone slams a door in the Marine house, but there is something that keeps drawing me toward Iraq. One of the unhappiest times of my career so far was about a year and a half ago, when I was told I could not transfer out of my unit to join another unit that had an impending combat mission in Iraq. I was, frankly, a bit depressed that I missed one of the most eventful periods of the war thus far, sitting it out on a ship or in North Carolina. I have friends who have said, with complete seriousness, that when they returned to Iraq for a second or third time they felt relieved, like they were at home.
Another good quote from the essay:
Part of the love of war stems from its being an experience of great intensity; its lure is the fundamental human passion to witness, to see things, what the Bible calls the lust of the eye and the Marines in Vietnam called eye fucking. War stops time, intensifies experience to the point of a terrible ecstasy. It is the dark opposite of that moment of passion caught in Ode on a Grecian Urn: "For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd/ For ever panting, and forever young. " War offers endless exotic experiences, enough "I couldn't fucking believe it! "'s to last a lifetime.Anyway, enough of my thoughtless and unimaginative writing, Broyles says it much better than I ever will.