* Topic- Yusef Komunyakaa “Facing It”
* Critical Opinion-Viewing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial often brings back many real and uneasy memories for a Vietnam Veteran.
2. Emotionally scarred
Thesis Statement: As a veteran of the Vietnam War, Yusef Komunyakaa revisited the experiences and pain of having been in one of the most difficult wars in US History. I. Komunyakaa, again, experiences the sights, the memories of things that happened years ago. A. The friends that were made there and then lost.
B. Experiences blend in a twisted tangle in his mind.
C. His experience cannot be separated from who he is.
II. As Yusef Komunyakaa goes down the list of names he half expects to find his name.
A. He wants to be stone; to be able to be solid, to show no emotion.
B. His scares are deep and painful.
C. These experiences are still so real that he cannot free himself from them.
III. Yusef Komunyakaa began to reflect on all the things that had been pushed from his mind for years. A. Yusef Komunyakaa’s reflection takes him back into the blackness of the war
B. It becomes clear that everything in the present reflects the pain in his past. C. This visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial causes him to reflect on things that were very painful.
Feb. 4, 2013
As a young man goes off to war there are often preparations for the possible loss of life, whether it is added life insurance, loss of income insurance, or just making sure that loved ones are taken care of. What are often overlooked are the losses that occur when the soldiers return home. In his poem “Facing It,” Yusef Komunyakaa, writes about the struggles of living after his experiences during the Vietnam War. As a veteran of the Vietnam War, Yusef Komunyakaa revisits the experiences and pain of having been in one of the most difficult wars in US History, as he visits the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Viewing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial often brings back many real and uneasy memories for a Vietnam Veteran. In “Facing It” he shows that he has, experienced the pain of war; been scared by war, and reflected on the results of war. Many years later many of these experiences still return in haunting vivid detail.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial brings back many experiences in very real, life-like detail. Komunyakaa, again, experiences the sights, the memories of things that happened years ago. “The booby trap’s white flash” (Komunyakaa 847) that killed Andrew Johnson. The experience of being there, seeing first-hand the atrocities of war. The friends that were made there and then lost. As these things are relived, the experiences, while old, become new again. These experiences blend in a twisted tangle in his mind. He sees woman trying to erase the names (Komunyakaa 847) possibly much like he tried to erase the experiences from his mind. The names remain, the experience cannot be erased. With eyes “like a bird of pray” (Komunyakaa 847) he watches himself in the reflection of his past.
He sees that his experience cannot be separated from who he is. The stone represents the war; depending on how the light hit it he is still in it. The emotional scars are so real that as Yusef Komunyakaa goes down the list of names he is “half expecting to find my own” (Komunyakaa 847). He realizes that in a way he too was a casualty of the war. Although he was not physically killed, a part of him was dead (or at least wanted to be). These experiences are still so real, so fresh, that he cannot free himself from them. He wants to be stone; to be able to be solid, to show no emotion. He had promised himself that he would not cry (Komunyakaa 847), and yet there he was fighting back the tears. His scares are deep and painful; no way to escape his own penetrating gazes; his own demons that haunt him from the memory of this war.
As he looks at the names, he sees a white vet in front of him; he has lost his right arm in the stone, much as Komunyakaa has lost so much in the war. Facing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, Yusef Komunyakaa began to reflect on all the things that had been pushed from his mind for years. His face blending into the black granite, Yusef Komunyakaa’s reflection takes him back into the blackness of the war (847). He sees that he is still fighting a war that had ended decades before. As he paces before the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial, it becomes clear that everything in the present reflects the pain in his past. The buddies lost; the innocence of youth torn from the young men and women as they struggle to fulfill the demands of their country. As he watches, a lady brushes a boy’s hair, yet he sees the cutting wings of a plane as it is on a bomb run (Komunyakaa 847).
This visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial causes him to reflect on things that were very painful. He didn’t run, but became part of the memorial, as the shadows take him from an observer to inside the stone, inside the war; he had been trying to escape from (Komunyakaa 847). Yusef Komunyakaa has shown that the experiences that he lives with daily closely reflect the things that he experienced during the Vietnam War. The things of everyday life often cause the memories to come flooding back. As he views the memorial many graphic and disturbing memories come roaring back.
Standing at the memorial, he becomes lost in the granite wall (Komunyakaa 847). He deals with the emotions, the sights, the experiences as he reflects on the things that have happened so long ago. Although it has been years since his comrade had been killed, he sees everything clearly. The emotional scars are deep and long lasting. Komunyakaa experiences a torrent of painful memories as he stands at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, “Facing It.”
Yusef Komunyakaa. “Facing It.” Literature: An introduction to Reading and
Writing. Ed. Edgar V. Roberts and Robert Zweig. 10th ed. New York: Pearson Longman. 2012. 847. Print.