Larry Mitchell




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Larry-
It is with my deepest respect and appreciation that I offer you thanks
for
your service to our country. I will not forget that you sacrificed much
for
the freedom of others. You are a good man. Please see my review below.
Joni

Potawatomi Tracks by Larry Mitchell

Review by Joni Bour

Right when I thought I had pretty much read everything there was to be
read
about the Vietnam War from the soldier’s/veteran’s perspective, a small
manila envelope found it’s way to my door. As it turns out, there are
some
things I have failed to learn.

This isn’t an easy book to read. It is painfully easy to follow, but it
sure
isn’t easy to look at. What I mean to say is that, is there anyone who
likes
to look at their own skeletons in the closet? Not me. But it is
something we
all have to do if we ever plan to get anywhere in this world. I shall
ask
Mr. Mitchell’s forgiveness in advance if I speak incorrectly of his past,
it
is not my intent to do anything but shed light on the plight of the
Native
American Vietnam veteran. They are rarely spoken of, written about or
honored. These men are all bigger people than I. If my grandfathers had
their hair cut off, land and language stolen from them I am not sure if
I
would be so eager to serve a government that had done this. I hear
sometimes
that people say-“why don’t the Indians just get over it? That was a
long
time ago”….. My answer would be, they have. They have fought and died
for
this country since before this country even had its own name. It seems
odd
to me that despite a man’s heritage, he can be expected to lay his life
down
in a foreign land, maybe even for a foreign cause, but in his very own
homeland, he is not honored for that sacrifice. That is so
disrespectful and
sad. Those are some of the reasons this book is so difficult to read.
And
that like it or not, it isn’t so easy to “move on” or to “ get over
it”.
There are many scars a man can possess. A bullet wound will heal, ask
an
soldier with a Purple Heart. It may even be worth a good story or two.
Scars
on forearm from jungle rot will make people gasp, but it doesn’t hurt
the
veteran anymore. But there are some scars on the inside that try as you
might, you can’t get to them, you can’t bandage them or suture them.
You can
’t blow them up, you can’t ignore them, you can’t outflank them and you
can’
t run from them. They become part of you, in a way, they are you…….
Then the
question becomes how do you live your life with the person you have
been
made to be. The author speaks with great eloquence of this- he seems to
have
few regrets about serving his country, and yet one can barely hesitate
when
asking why? He has been ignored, taunted, refused and mistreated. What
would
you do if the tables were reversed? That is your big question. Would
you be
able to rise above it? Would you sink beneath that burden? I was
halfway
through the book when I thought I could not continue, I did not want to
find
out what happened to the author, on the breakneck pace of self
destruction
he was on, I figured someone else must have finished writing the book
for
him, for surely he was in prison or dead….. He is neither. Please read
on if
you hit the middle ground as I did. The ending will touch your heart.


The author looks you square in the eyes as is the way of any honorable
man
and he never lets his eyes blink through the entire book. It made me
want to
look away, to cry in shame, anger and want to have met this man back
then-
to prove not all people are like many that he had met. I wanted to tell
him
that people don’t treat veterans that way in Oregon. That he would have
had
it better here. But I don’t really know that do I? Maybe I see things
from
the eyes of a person who has always had the door opened for me, always
had
options, never been afraid to sleep for fear of what my mind would do
while
I tried to escape into slumber. I am safe because of the sacrifices men
like
he have made. I have always been safe. Maybe that is why I felt so
helpless
reading this book. It just didn’t feel right. I was left unsettled. But
maybe that is the purpose of some things in life. Shake people up now
and
then. Challenge some of their notions, shake their ivory towers, maybe
some
of us will fall out and jog some sense back into our heads. It should
not
matter to me or you if the Vietnam War ended 30 years ago or 30 minutes
ago.
The fact is that millions served, thousands sacrificed all that they
had,
their lives, souls, minds, arms and legs. I have given them nothing in
return. What have you given them? A parade? A job when they needed one?
A
swift kick in the teeth? A hand? I don’t know what you are going to do,
but
I can make a suggestion. Read this book. Then think about it for a
while.
Then decide if there isn’t some little something you owe a veteran you
know.
I know what I am going to do. I shall start off by writing Larry Mitchell
a
letter of appreciation. I think I shall also make him a batch of
cookies,
every soldier needs a box of cookies in the mail.


Larry Mitchell
Author of "Potawatomi Tracks:
The Ballad of Vietnam and Other Stories."
http://www.PotawatomiTracks.com
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