Too Young for a Forgettable War: Second Edition
William Edward Alli. Too Young for a Forgettable War: Second Edition. Bloomington: Xlibris Corporation, 2012.
Too Young for a Forgettable War (Second Edition) is a coming-of-age story, in the most dangerous of environments. The author takes readers on a vivid journey to a war–and back. You will follow admittedly naive and immature 18-year-old Bill Alli, as he is forced out of his peaceful civilian life in Michigan, in 1950. Eventually he is taken westward, across the Pacific Ocean, to a war-stricken country known as “Land of the Morning Calm.”
His own father, also at 18, had sailed thousands of miles westward across the sea. But his dad was coming to America, leaving the dying Ottoman Empire–and its doomed army–to avoid a looming war. Bill’s fate would be different; he would experience war and maybe die a bloody death. He writes about the dangers, his stupid mistakes, and his physical shortcomings. The dangers turn out to be not only from the enemy’s weapons, but even from those of a United Nations ally (the Republic of Turkiye), whose soldiers are of the same nationality as was his father! They mistakenly arrest Bill as an “enemy agent.” That is clearly a justification for his execution.
Bill Alli doubts that he will survive the war and is astonished, and grateful, that he does. But in civilian life he is mortally endangered twice, soon after his return to America. In middle age, the author seeks his “roots,” but they are not those of lineage; they are those of memory. He even visits Korea and Turkey to search for fellow veterans and compare his recollections to theirs. He realizes that his story is clearly and tightly interwoven with that of his comrades, but there is a conflict between their desire to be helpful and their instincts to avoid bad memories.
He knows that old veterans do not want, or maybe aren’t able, to relive the past but he forges ahead, though not without tears. We find him exploring deep recesses of his own mind as he puts words to paper. He convinces himself that there are no lurking dangers from any PTSD working in his subconscious, but gradually loses much of his certainty. Not satisfied with the First Edition of his memoir, he decides three years later to self-publish a larger and more detailed Second Edition. He hopes that this book will now enable him to bring a finale to that long journey that began when he was too young a warrior caught up too far away in a forgettable war.
He describes how war lays bare human evil, making nobler those actions that counter it through bravery, compassion, and endurance. He hopes his book will incline readers to believe that life’s dreams are not canceled out by its nightmares, nor its beauty by its ugliness, nor its worth by its tragedies. This Second Edition of Too Young for a Forgettable War is appearing during the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Cease-Fire. The U.S. and North Korea have not yet reached a peace agreement. Readers may wonder whether Bill Alli has reached a peace agreement with his war experiences. Or is he really writing about an “unforgettable war?”