It was 1998, and I was in Washington D.C. I wanted to see a particular monument. This monument was between the White House and the Lincoln Memorial. I kept looking up for it. Then I saw something down in a depression in the ground. I saw the black marble wall with over 50,000 names on it. These were the names of all who died from my county in the Vietnam War. I was surprised to find out that over half, (25,000) died in the year 1968, the year I was in Vietnam.

That thought brought back memories.

All men like me who were teens in the 1960’s had one major thought on their minds. “I may have to go to Vietnam, and if I do I may die. I may die.” We believed that if it wasn’t for Vietnam, we would be happy. We would be fulfilled. Things, of course, would be wonderful, because we would be alive. Right?

Well, I tried to avoid going to Vietnam, but couldn’t postpone it. I not only spent 1968 there, when most died, but I was there in 1969.

But, my experience was not bad. I only was in danger once. I traveled to other countries. I met many wonderful friends. I got a free uniform that all the girls thought was cute.

After Vietnam I went to college. I got married. I had a new car. I had a little business. I got money from the government to go to school.

I was content, happy and fulfilled. Right?… Wrong!

I had avoided being killed in Vietnam only to find out that life is more then being alive. I believed that I could do and accomplish many things. But I also was convinced there was little purpose to it all.

I went through some difficult weeks. I was depressed, especially as I would fall asleep. For some reason I thought that thinking of Jesus at night would help me. One night as I lay on the bed, I thought of Jesus dieing. My thoughts of Jesus on the cross were not emotional. I just thought of him dieing. And then this thought came into my mind. He died for man’s sin. I picked my head off the pillow and thought, “That would mean he died for me.” Is that why they call Christians believers? They believe Jesus died for their sins.

Because of the change in me, my wife noticed. It seemed she was now married to a different person. She was not opposed to this, but it was different. I wanted to be with Christians at university. I wanted to learn how to tell others about Christ. I wanted to follow the person who not only overcame death but who knew how to live. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly”. I was experiencing this. Jesus said not to fear. I no longer feared death. That is the first step in living.

Virgil A.