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It is with my deepest respect and appreciation that I offer you thanks
your service to our country. I will not forget that you sacrificed much
the freedom of others. You are a good man. Please see my review below.
Potawatomi Tracks by Larry Mitchell
Review by Joni Bour
Right when I thought I had pretty much read everything there was to be
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
things I have failed to learn.
This isn’t an easy book to read. It is painfully easy to follow, but it
isn’t easy to look at. What I mean to say is that, is there anyone who
to look at their own skeletons in the closet? Not me. But it is
all have to do if we ever plan to get anywhere in this world. I shall
Mr. Mitchell’s forgiveness in advance if I speak incorrectly of his past,
is not my intent to do anything but shed light on the plight of the
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
would be so eager to serve a government that had done this. I hear
that people say-“why don’t the Indians just get over it? That was a
time ago”….. My answer would be, they have. They have fought and died
this country since before this country even had its own name. It seems
to me that despite a man’s heritage, he can be expected to lay his life
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
sad. Those are some of the reasons this book is so difficult to read.
that like it or not, it isn’t so easy to “move on” or to “ get over
There are many scars a man can possess. A bullet wound will heal, ask
soldier with a Purple Heart. It may even be worth a good story or two.
on forearm from jungle rot will make people gasp, but it doesn’t hurt
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.
’t blow them up, you can’t ignore them, you can’t outflank them and you
t run from them. They become part of you, in a way, they are you…….
question becomes how do you live your life with the person you have
made to be. The author speaks with great eloquence of this- he seems to
few regrets about serving his country, and yet one can barely hesitate
asking why? He has been ignored, taunted, refused and mistreated. What
you do if the tables were reversed? That is your big question. Would
able to rise above it? Would you sink beneath that burden? I was
through the book when I thought I could not continue, I did not want to
out what happened to the author, on the breakneck pace of self
he was on, I figured someone else must have finished writing the book
him, for surely he was in prison or dead….. He is neither. Please read
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
and he never lets his eyes blink through the entire book. It made me
look away, to cry in shame, anger and want to have met this man back
to prove not all people are like many that he had met. I wanted to tell
that people don’t treat veterans that way in Oregon. That he would have
it better here. But I don’t really know that do I? Maybe I see things
the eyes of a person who has always had the door opened for me, always
options, never been afraid to sleep for fear of what my mind would do
I tried to escape into slumber. I am safe because of the sacrifices men
he have made. I have always been safe. Maybe that is why I felt so
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
then. Challenge some of their notions, shake their ivory towers, maybe
of us will fall out and jog some sense back into our heads. It should
matter to me or you if the Vietnam War ended 30 years ago or 30 minutes
The fact is that millions served, thousands sacrificed all that they
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?
swift kick in the teeth? A hand? I don’t know what you are going to do,
I can make a suggestion. Read this book. Then think about it for a
Then decide if there isn’t some little something you owe a veteran you
I know what I am going to do. I shall start off by writing Larry Mitchell
letter of appreciation. I think I shall also make him a batch of
every soldier needs a box of cookies in the mail.
Author of "Potawatomi Tracks:
The Ballad of Vietnam and Other Stories."
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