Review – Facing the Wall
In the book Facing the Wall An Infantryman’s Post-Vietnam Memoir
Phil Ferrazano speaks from the heart about the honor and terror and hope and tragedy he experienced as a wounded soldier during his tour as an infantryman and – more harrowing somehow – his next thirty years battling the VA as a disabled Vietnam Veteran and his own post-traumatic stress disorder.
Facing the Wall was so well-written that I found myself thinking of the author as a friend, one whom I’ve known for forever. His words ring with honesty and emotional truth. I found myself sobbing by the fourth page, and cheering for all veterans as I read the speech the author delivered at his high school reunion. Facing the Wall takes the reader along the path from despair to hope and rebirth; the turning point was the fact that the author (and vicariously, the reader) must face "the wall" (Death of his friends, fellow soldiers, and his own youth as personified by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial).
Phil Ferrazano used what he had learned and wrote songs about these experiences. The songs are available in a CD on the author’s website.
I have a hard time dealing with someone who wallows in their own despair. Phil Ferrazano never wallowed. He shared all the myriad ranges of emotions, from anger and frustration and betrayal through love and hope and forgiveness. Forgiveness was big in this book. He paints survivor’s guilt and suicide and conscientious objectors and crumpled careers and divorces with the flowing stroke of a brush filled with understanding and compassion. He takes what he learned and passes it on to others around him, through his music and his words. I can’t help but be reminded of the last stanza of the poem by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) In Flanders’ Field:
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
In his own way, Phil Ferrazano took up the quarrel which Vietnam Veterans in particular have to face every day. By writing this book, by creating his website, by performing his songs, and by speaking out for himself and for others, he is holding high this torch. When he faced the wall, he realized he could not and would not break faith with the people whose names are on that wall.
Take this book slowly. Get a bookmark and use it. Stop reading and put the book down and walk away for a while when the story becomes too intense. The author masterfully surges from past to present and back again, just enough to allow your emotions to crest before sliding back into safer waters. But, take this book slowly. It took me over a month to finish it. It was well-worth the time.
I wish my father had read this book. I had so many unanswered questions about my dad, until I read this book.
On the back of my business card is a quote from Beowulf, Each of us must look to death, and he who can should do mighty deeds before it comes. In writing this book Facing the Wall An Infantryman’s Post-Vietnam Memoir , Phil Ferrazano has done just that. Well done, and thank you.
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