(The Washington Post)

Frank Bruno

74, Columbia, Md., retired family physician

It was January 1970, and I was leaving to serve as a flight surgeon for the U.S. Army in Vietnam. My wife, Yolanda, gave me a chain with a silver peace symbol on it. She hoped it would protect me and also serve as a reminder of her. I said I would wear it around my neck the entire time I was in Vietnam.

Having attended college and medical school during the ’60s, I realized that the peace symbol was an antiwar symbol; I was not against our military presence in Vietnam when I left.

Many times during my year in Vietnam I would hold onto my peace symbol and hope my wife could feel the vibes. Some fellow soldiers mocked it and tried to intimidate me into removing it.

As 1970 wore on, I became more and more disenchanted with what was happening in Vietnam and started to relate to the antiwar movement back home. Upon my return to the States, the peace symbol around my neck meant something entirely different than it did when I entered Vietnam.

Today I keep it on my car keychain. I softly rub it and think about a time when, as a young man, I obeyed my country’s command to go to war. I left my family, my friends and put my life in danger. Upon my return, I foolishly thought that we would never do such a foolish thing again. My silver symbol still gives me hope one day peace will prevail.

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