Trust In Love – James Gallagher

My Father Was a Hero in The War


My father was a hero in the war.

He was a flier and he got a medal.

He lost his stomach to an ulcer fifteen years later.

That didn’t kill him either.

That was when I was thirteen.

I remember his cries and screams in his sleep no matter how much he drank to try to silence them.

That was when I was twenty-one or so, a quarter century after the war.

He used to wake me when I was home from college.

I am almost forty now.

Last night I went to bed late.

He doesn’t scream anymore.

Now he only mutters and groans.

But I can still tell that he is dreaming of Messerschmitts and nightmare bursts of flak that were a part of his daily life in war.

As a child he told me all about it. I learned all about it at my fathers’ knee.

He flew in B-24’s. No one knows what they are anymore.

I didn’t fight in Viet Nam.

I had learned at an early age that war makes madmen, cripples, addicts, and corpses.

My father was a hero in the war.

I wasn’t.

I hope my son understands.

Fall 1987


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