PTSD And Its Lasting Effects
Nine out of ten people in North America have probably never heard of the protracted Angolan War — the15-year battle in Angola — by the end of which more than one million persons had died, and about which President Ford is reported to have said that he had "permitted Kissinger to design a disaster." To me, however, it is the memory of how it affected young people, about whom I cared very much, that still haunts me to this day.
This is, in fact, why I devoted such a great deal of space to agonizing about it in my book The Yardstick, the third in a trilogy, the Beauclaire Saga, set in South Africa. I did so by creating a secondary school headmaster by the name of Mark, and having his wife tell about him when asked why he had resigned, and why he had chosen, instead, to become the principal of a small primary school in the Kalahari Desert.
“Angola!" she responds. “Mark got to the stage where it just about broke his heart when, year after every year, as a new group of his boys turned sixteen, he had to start handing out the forms for registration in the armed forces. He’d seen too many of them return, changed forever! South Africans had never been conscripted before. And that made the situation even more deplorable.."
“I can understand that someone as sensitive as he was, and who loved his students so dearly, would have hated that,” observes her questioner. “Because I was at university then I, myself, was fortunate only to be called up periodically for three-month spells at a time, but that was bad enough. At times not as much because of what we endured, as from what we saw!"
He goes on to relate that some, when called up, were innocently quite excited to be going, but there were many like himself — young, angry, and unable to understand why they were being made to go! He pitied the ones who were obliged to be there for longer spells. One of them had sickened him by describing, vividly, how he had seen dogs eating dead bodies in the street!
I Was That Principal!