A friend sends along this column by Pat Conroy with only the comment “Wow”: “An honest confession by an American coward.” The column is drawn from Conroy’s 2003 book My Losing Season. In the course of writing the book over four years, Conroy visited his 1966-67 Citadel basketball teammates. Among Conroy’s former teammates is Al Kroboth. Kroboth served in Vietnam, was captured by the Viet Cong and held prisoner by the North Vietnamese. Conroy contrasts his behavior opposing the Vietnam war with Kroboth’s conduct at the same time and concludes:
After hearing Al Kroboth’s story of his walk across Vietnam and his brutal imprisonment in the North, I found myself passing harrowing, remorseless judgment on myself. I had not turned out to be the man I had once envisioned myself to be. I thought I would be the kind of man that America could point to and say, “There. That’s the guy. That’s the one who got it right. The whole package. The one I can depend on.”
It had never once occurred to me that I would find myself in the position I did on that night in Al Kroboth’s house in Roselle, New Jersey: an American coward spending the night with an American hero.
You’ll want to read the whole thing.