Published DateTo the editor,
Thievery, kidnapping, murder and rape. Bad behavior has been around, even before the first gun was made. The largest of these atrocities were always government sponsored. America... you are not exempt! I personally believe every child is born innocent and it's the chapters of our lives that create who we become. Some have chapters filled with riches and fame and some have journeys that portray the worst horror story ever written. All the rest fall somewhere in between. Discussion about guns, problems with Vets, along with the recent tragedy in Los Angeles struck a chord with me. So I needed to tell this story.
I lived up in the mountains of western Montana for five years during the late 1980s. One day I was following a small group of elk. The main bull was huge! With rifle in hand, I pursued most of the day, always taking the high ground on them. I expected a good shot soon. Dropping down through a thick stand of evergreens I entered a high basin unknown to me. When I emerged from the trees, the small cabin sat in front of me.
On the front porch, a gray bearded man, his rifle ready. A stout dog stood beside him. Both stared at me. Cradling my high powered rifle in my left arm, I steadily walked toward them. I was unsure of the man, but instinctively knew the dog was not to be trusted. When close, I stared to extend my hand and introduce myself.
"Don't move!" he shouted. The growl from the dog quieted when I dropped my hand down. After my explanation on why I was there, he invited in for coffee, interesting me to sit in his chair.
"Don't get up. Don't move and don't follow me in the kitchen." he demanded.
"Nam?" I asked.
"Yes," he replied, then he disappeared beyond the wall.
For the next 15 minutes I sat like a prisoner. This stranger's dog stood guard not more than a quick lunge away. We locked eyes; not a hint of friendship between us. Finally, without a move and in a calm voice, I asked him, "You told him I was coming, didn't ya?" He then displayed the rest of his sharp teeth. For a second I though the dog was smiling. But no sane man in my predicament would want to find out by extending his hand.
John and I talked for a good length of time. He had had it a whole lot worse than I had during those years when were younger. He didn't give specifics, but I knew from his eyes that this soldier had gone through hell. Also, I understood he was still very troubled. I told him of a cousin who had come back a different man. This cousin has bragged for years of his kills, of the necklace strung with ears that he had taken as trophies and had worn in Nam. Unfortunately, he died before his thirtieth birthday of a heart attack. John didn't seem surprised. "I've seen them all", he said. Then looking up he said, "They didn't want us over there and they didn't want us back." With sadness I replied, "I know".
John shook my hand and when I left and "Wolf" allowed it. I took John's path downhill a ways from the cabin, but I knew I needed to turn west to familiar territory and to get back to my own cabin. Below, I stopped and looked back. Only "Wolf" remained on the porch. In front of me on the lodge pole pine tree the sign read "Trespassers Will Be Shot!"
Until we teach compassion and respect to our innocent children and until the powers of the government tend our own, nothing will change. Too many service men and women come home with irreparable damage. You leaders in Washington who bath in cash and power, you are wasting our time and money trying to ban guns. That endeavor would be as successful as the Middle East banning their stones. We need guns for food and protection. And, as the Constitution requires, we need them to protect you Leaders from yourselves. So Washington, do some good and earn your pay!
Sometimes I wonder if John and others are still up there in the mountains. "Wolf" has surely passed by now. Too bad, he was a good dog.
William H. Kendall