The following excerpt describes my research into my father’s service during World War II as an airman for the Army Air Force Air Transport Command—a massive operation that supplied the troops abroad with ammunition, medicine, bombs, and money, and that ferried German prisoners and wounded soldiers—and how learning about this period in his life changed my perception of him and his wartime service.
I located a close friend, Jim Birdsall, nicknamed “Bird,” 25 years after the end of the war in Vietnam. He had the same nightmare every night until we reconnected. He wrote about them and asked me to turn them into a poem, out of which came healing and forgiveness. Here is the poem…
Our goal, as therapists, is to help veterans expand their belief systems, through the construction of an ideal self, to integrate the traumatic information of combat and discover new inspiration. Combat changed how veterans perceive the world. As a result of combat, veterans have new information regarding life’s possibilities and actualities. However, their belief systems often aren’t able to integrate the information. The new knowledge is too big; it won’t fit into their existing ways of understanding.
When I read They Marched Into Sunlight, David Maraniss’ powerful book on the Vietnam War, I immediately responded to the timelessness and universality of the themes and events he documented. I was deeply moved by the integrity, honor and commitment of both those who fought the war, and those who fought against it. I embarked upon the creation of this dance, Into Sunlight, hoping that the universal language of the body would reflect and offer the same sense of healing that David’s words evoked in me. ~ Robin Becker, Artistic Director