I’ve just finished reading a short book by E. Everett McFall—short in volume but not short in message! I Can Still Hear Their Cries: Even in My Sleep is a very personal story. If you read nothing else but the two pages, “The Valley of Despair, aka PTSD, you will come face to face with a man’s deepest despair! “So I kissed steel and suckled on a cold blue tube, waiting, anticipating and preparing to welcome the unforgiving flaming messengers of death.” (p. 37)
When you have considered suicide, as Everett McFall has, you may realize that there is only one solution and bow your head to call out for help, “Bless me with enduring strength as I struggle to find my way back to sanity...” (p. 38)
This is a portion of Everett’s personal walk through the valley of despair and depression called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He never knew what he would face when, prior to joining the service, he believed as some others that, “a man ain’t a real man until he’s been tested under fire in combat.” (p. 1) Unfortunately, the war at that time was the one in Vietnam—the longest war ever and the one that many refuse to discuss! Those who do, like Everett, are selective because “most of us have locked those traumatic events deep within the recesses of our minds for safe-keeping and well-being, OUR OWN.” (p. 40) Even as he says this, he mentions that his novel, Dancing with Death—All Gave Some, Some Gave All reveals much more, but not all—he can’t tell it all!
Indeed, I am not sure that any caring individual is ready to know all that takes place when a loved one is sent into war. However, as with most of us, we do need to share with others and Everett has written or gathered from friends many beautiful but relevant poems that reflect upon the Vietnam War. One of the most heartbreaking is one in which he writes, “I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you” to beloved members of his family who died while he was overseas. (p. 5)
I think the ones that struck me the hardest were related to the title of this book. “I Can Still Heard Their Cries” speaks out of the horrors of so much death that comes into his dreams—nightmares—at night! “Little Tiny Faces” talks about the children ravaged by the war. Then, there is “Purple Heart,” which expresses how the wounds for which they gave him the ribbon are now long healed... “except the scars in my mind called PTSD.” (p. 15)
The concluding message, however, struck me from a totally different perspective. Everett McFall is writing to his sons, his brothers, his friends’ children and he’s saying “Gang Bangers that wage war...are like young children playing nursery games...” He wants them to realize that life and death is not a game and he wants them to realize that, before they find themselves caught in a war where losing your life is a second-by-second probability.
The author has also provided an excellent Veterans Resource Guide and Directory as the last part of his book.
While this book may not be for everybody, it is definitely a must-read for individuals that may or have been affected through a war, PTSD or other disability directly attributable to participation in the military service. Thank you, Everett McFall, for opening your wounds and your heart and allowing us to share them with you! God Bless you and your family!