The Vietnam War occurred in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia from 1955 – 1975. It is known in Vietnam as the Resistance War Against America. It was also considered a Cold War perhaps because if the North Vietnamese Army had not been supported by the Soviet Union and China; and the South Vietnamese Army had not been supported by the United States, South Korea and Australia, Thailand and other anti-communist allies; the war could not have continued for as long as it did.
Funny thing about weapons of destruction ~ when you have them, you use them and they are very expensive. And, warfare consequently wanes, when soldiers on both sides are rather incapacitated by guns that either won’t fire, sometimes fire or are absent of bullets….but, we all continue to make weapons and this was one of many causes that Leo had taken up since his return from Vietnam. In other words, “Stop making guns, stop selling guns, stop making ammunition for guns.”
At the age of 66, Leo understood well the necessity for complex debate and perseverance to ensure peace. Although Leo lived on the streets, he sometimes found refuge in the Salvation Army Shelter on Jarvis Street. He was a proud man and well educated in the university called “Life”. Leo was a war veteran with physical injuries but, most importantly, he suffered from PTSD that he could not shake. Before the war, he had been a disgruntled student with repeated histories of expulsion and truancy however, nobody ever asked ‘Why?” His only escape had been to enlist in the war, a decision he regretted for the rest of his life. Upon returning, his nightmares and anxiety were so disturbing that he often dreaded going to sleep. His anxiety never quelled and in fact escalated to the point that employment was literally impossible. Relationships with family faltered and his emotional well being was always at risk. Anxiety and depression are little understood illnesses in the general population and shame, intimidation and social isolation are often predisposed anomalies of the condition. Leo had a subconscious voice that reassured him the butchery and violence of war would haunt him daily ~ pervasive frightening thoughts left him numb and alone. His strict and severe childhood had also been particularly disturbing and did not serve to quell his overly wrought imagination. Removing himself from his family and friends only served to exacerbate his desperation but, the Salvation Army sometimes diminished some of his emotional pain for a short time.
Leo was one of the first people that Simon and Devin met as they hustled from the back of the cargo truck into the big city. Leo had set up a make shift camp just outside the confines of the trucking company. As the boys stumbled and tripped on the rocky ground their body language and conversation was clearly anxious. They had hid in the truck for as long as possible until everything went quiet and by that time they were becoming very distraught. Simon was almost in tears.
“Hey there fellows”, said Leo. “You boys doing ok? Looks like you could use a little food and water ~ maybe a place to stay for a bit?”