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The Sun Magazine

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

A Vietnam Diary

Twenty-five years ago, my father was in South Vietnam for several months. He’d already retired from the Marine Corps by then, having served for twenty-seven years, and had started a second career in the ordnance (that is, weapons) division at Honeywell — or, as my father always referred to the company, “Honeypot,” because they kept thousands of Americans employed and safely ensconced behind white picket fences and two-car garages. At the time, Honeywell was a major supplier of antipersonnel weapons to the United States military, and had just begun work on the “automated battlefield,” a coordinated array of sensors and antipersonnel devices that could keep a given area free of enemy forces. But there were two problems with the automated battlefield: The enemy could (and did) go underground. And the sensor equipment couldn’t always distinguish soldiers from civilians, water buffaloes, large dogs, children — it simply fired at them all.

The Beat Goes On

Unlike most columnists, Hal Crowther doesn’t tailor his opinions to fit an established body of thought. He isn’t out to prop up either party’s platform. More ornery and sagacious than most of his journalist peers, Crowther hunts for truth like a forty-niner panning for gold. Sometimes he finds a small nugget; sometimes a big chunk.

Trying To Be Human

My understanding of what the Buddha taught is that there is a reason suffering happens, and that it is possible to end suffering. For me, the easiest way to understand this is to recognize how my suffering arises from wanting something other than what is.


Pam came to our front door cradling three jars of applesauce. She’d been peeling and cooking all day, she said. She couldn’t believe how many apples were growing in her yard.


Beside The Tracks

There are only two decorations in Tommy’s room, unless you count the beer cans, which you don’t. You simply trash them every morning like clockwork, after you’ve cleaned up the breakfast dishes, put away the sticky cereal boxes, swept the sandy kitchen floor. That’s long after Carl’s lingering kiss at dawn before he left for work, after your kids have left for school, right about the time the midmorning train whistle blows in the distance.

His Master's Voice

Whenever Dad came up to Nooksack from Seattle, he took my brother and me to the movies, or to a sandwich place on the waterfront where we shot pool. He booked a motel room in town where we’d watch color TV before he returned us to Mom’s.

Readers Write


Having been clean and sober for about two years thanks to Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, I figured that the group therapy at the local veterans’ outreach center might be good for me, too.

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸


All the wrong people remember Vietnam. I think all the people who remember it should forget it, and all the people who forgot it should remember it.

Michael Herr

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