Ambushed by Beauty


Every so often during the Vietnam War, I would see past the ugly, disheveled scars of war on the landscape and realize that this was a beautiful country. When seen from a thousand feet up in a helicopter, the landscape became a blanket of rumpled green velvet with crazy quilts of rice paddies in the flat areas. It was gratifying to notice other Marines, no matter how salty and battle hardened, being pulled away from the task at hand by the sight of a breeze waving the tops of a bamboo thicket, or a thunderstorm back in the mountains of Laos to the West, or a sunrise reflected in the East China Sea. It was not only a welcome respite from the sun bleached olive drab of structures, equipment and men or the omnipresent red dust, it was a reminder that there would be a return to such beauty when the War faded into history, and a return to beauty for us if we made it home.