Veteran brings Vietnam War to life

By Jessica Chesko
October 13, 2006

Shane Evans

A Vietnam veteran and author, did not preach on the horrors of war, but explained that we all have “Vietnams” in our lives, on Thursday, Oct. 5, in the Widener lecture hall. The audience, made up mostly of English and communication majors, sat in near silence while Don Yost recounted his Vietnam hardships.

“The Vietnam experience is one of alienation, rage and guilt. Rape victims and holocaust survivors are most like Vietnam veterans,” Yost said.

Yost explained that we have all had a Vietnam in our lives that have caused these feelings and if we haven’t yet then it is coming. “Vietnam was life compressed into 12 months,” he said.

Yost used the metaphor of a dam. He said that during our lives we build up a dam around ourselves but when our “Vietnam” hits, that dam crumbles. Once we get over it, we are on a better side of life. Once we have dealt with a “Vietnam” we become more human and we are better able to help others get through their “Vietnams.”

This brought up one of his main points, closure. “Closure is bullshit,” Yost said. He reminisced that people just expected him and other veterans to get over Vietnam but it is not that easy. Yost explained that it is wrong to expect someone to just get over something. Some people need more time and we should be sympathetic to that need.

Perhaps the most moving part of the speech was when Yost spoke about his wife. “The worst part of my Vietnam experience was missing Janey,” he said.

Yost expressed how difficult it had been to leave his wife behind and the pain of knowing that he was causing her a “Vietnam.”

“I thought it was very enlightening and it had a good message to it,” said Corinne Grasso, a freshman English and communication major.

“I liked the main point that he made that we all have our own personal ‘Vietnams’ to deal with because it’s very true. You have to be a little more sympathetic to people because some people take more time to heal than others,” said senior Maura Gertz, an English and communication major.

“I think it’s great that he can take his life and help other people,” said freshman Jessica Gruber, an English and communication major.

Bill Monahan, a freshman, said, “As a first year student I am desperately searching for closure. I am glad I came to this talk because it helped me realize I wasn’t looking for closure, I was looking more to name what my ‘Vietnam’ is.”

After his speech concluded, Yost expressed his hoped that his words had gone well and his feelings on Cabrini College.

“Fantastic school and the students are incredible. You can actually feel the learning going on here,” said Yost.

“The bottom line is take your Vietnams and use them to help other people.”

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Jessica Chesko

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