I’m not sure why I picked it up, or what it was that attracted me to it, but as I turned the small statue in my hands, I knew I was going to keep it.

It stood about eight or nine inches tall, with gold-colored plating over the cast iron likeness of the Buddha. It sat in perfect meditative tranquility in the midst of a war-torn country, waiting — in my mind — to be rescued. It was heavier than it looked, somewhere between five and 10 pounds. But I knew it would have to be carried for months, adding to the already heavy load I was burdened with as I battled my way across Vietnam. Souvenirs like this were hard to come by and I had learned the hard way, after a prized montagnard crossbow was stolen from me, that if you wanted to take a trophy home, you kept it close to you. So, I tucked the statue away it in my rucksack for the next five months until my rotation back to the States.

The pagoda my unit was ransacking was in a beautiful emerald green valley we Americans called Valley 506, on the central coastal plain of …read more

Source:: The Week – World

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