Memoir of a War Resister—A Novel of the 1960s

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Chapter 6—"Respect"

Ginger and I sat in the snack bar in Commons editing my anti-war article for ‘The Forester.’ “I love the way you start with the details of the meetings but then bring in the reality of the war: deaths, injuries, men drafted. I’m impressed.” She marked the article with things to clean up.

“Marty and Jake helped with the statistics. Every time I see Marty he’s watching the news or reading a newspaper.” I became aware of a whispered conversation between two girls at the table behind us. One girl was crying.

“I don’t know what I am going to do,” the girl said between sobs. Ginger looked over at the table.

“We’ll figure it out,” the other girl said.

“How? It’s not fair. I only did it once.”

I wasn’t sure what they were talking about. “Once what?” I mouthed to Ginger. She put her finger to her lips.

“He was leaving for Vietnam. I wanted to prove I loved him. What am I going to do?” With that, I knew what the ‘once’ was all about. Obviously she never heard my dad’s speeches.

Ginger stood up. “I’ll be right back. Keep working on the edits.” She walked over to the table and sat down. The three of them talked for about ten minutes. Ginger took a card out of her bag and handed it to one of the girls.

“I can’t thank you enough,” I heard the girl say. She stood up and hugged Ginger.

“You don’t have to thank me. I know what it’s like.” The two girls left, arm in arm.

“What was that all about?” I asked. I slid the edited articles over to her.

“She’s pregnant.” She watched the girls walk away. “I gave her the address of a doctor in Chicago who performs abortions.” Ginger gathered up the articles and put them in a folder.

“How did you know about that? Isn’t it illegal?”

“Yes, having an abortion is illegal but she doesn’t have much choice, does she?” I had not really thought about being pregnant and what someone does when she’s pregnant and doesn’t want to be.

“What’s going to happen? What if she gets caught?” I asked.

“She is going to catch the train into Chicago, go into some cheap hotel room this doctor rented, lie on the table and hope and pray he sterilized his instruments. He’s going to give her some kind of sedative and wait about fifteen minutes. Then he’s going to give her an abortion.” Ginger took the folder with the edited articles and stuffed it, a little too harshly, into her book bag. If she’s lucky she’ll live and be able to have children later.”

I gathered up the coffee cups and plates.

“Nice job on the edits by the way,” she said.

U.S. Soldier Body Count: 16,982

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