Full circle.

by James Murtaugh, Jan 11, 2003 | Destinations: Vietnam / Da Nang

May 2000. A early morning flight from Saigon to Da Nang. Saigon was a place I had never been before and had been like many asian cities. As our plane descends we are coming into Da Nang. The airport I flew home from as a teenage Marine in 1968. A place I'd thought I'd never see again. This was not supposed to be an emotional trip for me. Just a look around the country I had fought in long ago. Yet, there I was, looking out the window of the plane, feeling deep emotion building inside. I am surprized at my reaction. After the plane lands, we walk down the steps to a bus for the short ride to the terminal building. Just inside the doors we wait for our bags. It is very hot and the doors remain open. Looking out the doors, across the runway, are mountains and they hold onto the clouds in the morning. I am remembering this same picture so many years ago. I see and hear nothing around me. Only the far off mountains and long ago. I feel the tears building in my eyes. I walk out the door so the others will not see my tears. A vietnamese man (police?) walks up to me and asks in english "What are you doing". I tell him that I'm just looking at the planes. He is not fooled. He says "You have been here before!". I nod yes to him. He puts his hand gently on my shoulder and walks away. I am thinking that my life has come full circle. I had never thought I'd ever be in this place again. Yet, I am really here. During the war I had thought I'd like to see Viet Nam without war, but it was just a dream of a teenage boy. In the days ahead I would find myself thinking that I had returned home after being away for a lifetime. In America there is a saying that you can never go home. It means that all things change. Viet Nam has changed too but for the better. But still I can't help but feel that I have returned home . . . Full Circle! Jim Murtaugh

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