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16 August 2022

Novel: "Henoko Bar, Stars and Stripes" Chapter 6 "Amazing Grace"

In Henoko, Nago City, Okinawa Prefecture, shaken by the issue of the construction of a new U.S. military base, a female singer time slips to the time in the midst of the Vietnam War. What is the Henoko New Base Problem? What is the Vietnam War? What is America? What is Okinawa?


A short story in 9 chapters. Each chapter features famous songs from Japan, the United States and Okinawa.


Please read from Chapter 1.


Genjiro said.

"The Vietnam War, it's a sabotage of US imperialism's imposition of its own justice. Originally, Vietnam was an independent dynasty, but it was colonized by France in the nineteenth century, and after World War II, it was divided into north and south in the place of national independence, and the north side became a socialist country, so the United States was to support South Vietnam to prevent the spread of communism from China.

But the South Vietnamese government is a dictatorship that oppressed its people, A force was formed in South Vietnam that sought unification with the North, and in the 1960s the United States intervened militarily to suppress the rebels in North Vietnam and South Vietnam.


They carried out air strikes against North Vietnam, and in South Vietnam they sent troops into the tropical jungle to crush the forces allied with the North, but the opponents were more formidable than expected. The U.S. military attacked with the latest weapons, but the Vietnamese risked their lives to defend their country and received arms support from the then communist powers of China and the Soviet Union.

On the other hand, the U.S. military was forced to fight in South Vietnam, which they think allies, where they could not see the difference between enemy and ally, and attacked villages of people whom they thought suspicious anyway, which aroused more and more popular antipathy, and the war between the North and the South had turned into a war between Vietnam and the United States.


The U.S. tried to save the face of the nation by recruiting its own young people and sending them to the battlefield one after another, but the death toll only increased, and if it could not win, the anti-war movement in the country rose and the soldiers were withdrawn, and finally, South Vietnam collapsed in 1975.

Therefore, Vietnam became a socialist country in which North and South Korea achieved national reunification. It was a fiasco war for the United States."


Genjiro knew everything as she expected.


"A lot of American soldiers died, didn’t they?"


Naomi said, remembering Jimmy and Tony.


"Oh, it is said that 50,000 soldiers died on the U.S. military side. But on the Vietnamese side, two million soldiers and civilians were killed. It's not just people who have died.

In order to gain the upper hand in jungle warfare, defoliants were scattered from the sky to destroy the environment, and the harmful substances of defoliants still afflict the Vietnamese people by causing the birth of deformed babies and the like.

After the Vietnam War, the U.S. stopped using the tactic of sending many troops ashore, but it has always fought wars involving civilians as collateral damage for the sake of a cause. You know what's going on in Iraq and Afghanistan."


She was impressed by how smoothly Genjiro spoke. Naomi said.


"Hey, there were a lot of American soldiers coming to Henoko, weren't there?"


"Oh, because Schwab is a training ground for recruits. At the time of the Vietnam War, Okinawa was under American rule, so Okinawa was a hub for the Vietnam War. In the villages in the north, they used the villagers for combat training that regarded them as enemy forces in Vietnam, so much so that they used the entire island as a training ground for war," Genjiro spoke in an irritated tone.


"But these bars were lucrative because American soldiers came," Naomi said.


"Oh, because if you go to a war zone, you don't know when you're going to die, so you're going to spend all your money and drink it up, so it's a lot of money for a restaurant. Also, the Vietnam War was a good opportunity for Okinawa to return to Japan. The Japan government supported the United States in the Vietnam War and left the base and allowed it to be used freely after the return as a trade-off for the return. So even if it was reverted to Japan, Okinawa is still occupied by U.S. military bases."


Genjiro said in an angry tone.


Okinawa was returned to the Japan in 1972, before the end of the Vietnam War. Before that, Okinawa continued to be separated from the mainland and under U.S. military occupation even after Japan was relieved of its occupation by the U.S. Army in 1952 by the San Francisco Peace Treaty and became independent.

That was what she learnt in history class. That period was when the Japan constitution and laws were not in place. Naomi wondered if she could do something more for Genjiro, native Okinawan who inherited such history. She wanted to stay with Genjiro tonight. Naomi's body heated from within.


Genjiro's smartphone rang. Genjiro talked on the phone about a minute. After he ended talking, he said to Naomi.


"I'm sorry, I can't have a drink with you, I'm going to have an emergency meeting with my buddies. So I'm going back to the inn. Bye," and ran towards the inn.


Genjiro seemed to be more interested in anti-base activities than Naomi. She was left alone. Her excitement was gone and turned disappointment.


Naomi didn't feel like drinking alone. However, she knew that even if she went to a bar where locals gathered in this Henoko village, she would not be welcome, so she thought about going back to the inn herself. Genjiro was not going to join her because he would be in a meeting with his buddies.


As she started to walk away from the Stars and Stripes building, she heard a rustling sound from the building. It's the same as last night. She approached the entrance door and placed her hand on the knob and turn it. It was open. Inside was a bar full of the same American soldiers as last night and the night before last.


It was locked and quiet until just now. The door opened as if to lure her being left alone outside. She wondered what lured her beyond time and space? She looked up and saw Kenny at the counter. He was sitting at the counter and was making drinks for the American soldiers. From a distance, he looked like a cute bartender. Naomi approached happily.


"Good evening, Kenny," Naomi greeted.


"Hey, Sister, it's been a week," Kenny said. Has a week passed here? For Naomi, it was last night.


"Do you drink anything?" asked Kenny.


"Well, do you have a gin and tonic?" said Naomi.


"Yes," Kenny said, and Naomi said to him, remembering something.


"Oh, yes, I think I forgot to get the Sanshin claw back the other day, but do you still have it?"


Naomi said. She thought it wasn't a big deal, but She remembered it, so she asked.


"Oh, yes, I forgot to give it back. There is. I've kept it on the shelf, so I'll take it," Kenny said.


"Oh, if you're busy right now, you can do it later, it's not a big deal, so you can give it back anytime," Naomi said, smiling at Kenny. She watched him thinking that it would be really interesting if he were to become a big man in Okinawa one day. She didn’t know that such a cute boy might become a prefectural governor.


"Naomi, it's nice to see you again," Jimmy approached.


"Hey, Jimmy, how are you doing?" Naomi said affectionately to Jimmy.


"It's great, there's nothing better than a post-training drink," Jimmy says, sipping his beer with gusto. It's a good atmosphere, Naomi thought. And


"Hey, how's Tony doing?" asked Naomi curiously. Naomi was impressed last night that he's a different type of guy than Jimmy, but he also had the honesty to argue so much and eventually get to know anyone.


"Oh, he was supposed to come with me, but all of a sudden our supevisor called him. Well, he said he'd join us here when it’s done, so we’ll see him later," Jimmy said.


Just then, they heard the door bang and open violently. It was so violently opened that those who were inside turned their attention to the door. A blonde young man entered. He stepped in heavily.


"Come on, Tony, let's have a drink together," Jimmy called out, but Tony was expressionless.


If one looked at him closely, Tony's face was very red. Did something happen? Everyone fell silent. Tony approached the counter and walked over to Jimmy's side.


"What's the matter, Tony?" Did something happen?"


Tony said with a stiff face.


"Joe is dead."


"Is Joe your brother?" asked Jimmy.


"Yes," Tony said.


Naomi remembered last night in a daze. Joe was Tony's older brother and a soldier whom the American soldiers here adore.


"I just heard that Joe was killed in Vietnam."


Jimmy's face froze at Tony's words. The American soldiers around them also froze in surprise. In an instant, the bar fell silent.


"It is a lie, it shouldn’t be true. A soldier like Joe was dead," Jimmy said with a shudder.


"It's true, he was killed by the Viet Cong!" Tony shouted, tears streaming down his eyes.


The young American soldiers around him were also fidgeting. Each spoke words of thought.


"Oh my god, how could such a super-strong guy like Joe be killed?"


"Didn't we underestimate the enemy too much?"


"What are we doing this war for in the first place? Are South Vietnamese our side? "


"There's a lot of anti-war movement in our country, we are sure there's no way to win, how are we going to fight against the enemy we can't distinguish from our side?"


"Hey, don't say that, our superiors tell us. Don't think about it and move according to orders."


"Yes, then drink here, let's drink and forget. If you go to the battlefield, that's it. We've got to do anything we want before then."


The young U.S. soldiers say and throw dollar bills into the drum. The master at the counter poured more and more liquor and hands it to the American soldiers. Kenny and Naomi stared stunned as they watched Tony keep his face down and a large tear streaming down his face. The counter table is wet with tears. Jimmy put a hand on Tony's shoulder with equally teary eyes. He had a very sad expression.


On the other hand, the master was unfazed. He poured liquor into glasses snappily as if he thought he was making a lot of money from this, and followed one after the other. He didn't seem to care about Tony's grief.


Naomi was stunned. It was exactly what Genjiro was saying. They had no choice but to do this because they did not know when they would die if they went to the battlefield. What a cruel fate!


Naomi looked at Tony who couldn't stop crying and wondered if she could do something. What to do? She wondered if she could somehow comfort him in the depths of his grief.


Naomi came up with a song and headed to the live stage. She didn't need an instrument. Just her singing voice. It was a great song she learned when she was in England. In Europe and the United States, songs are played and songs at funerals. She knew it was also sung at the funeral of an American president.


Amazing Grace. It is a song about worshipping God written by a Christian pastor named John Newton in England.

Naomi stood in front of the microphone and sang.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound

That saved the wretch like me


I once was lost now I found

Was blind but now I see


Towards grace that taught my heart to fear

And grace my fear relieved


How precious did that grace appear

The hour I first believed


Through many dangers

toils and snares

I have already come


'Tis grace hath brought me

safe thus far

And grace will lead me home


Naomi's beautiful voice echoed through the bar, and the American soldiers stopped drinking and fell silent attracted to her voice. Jimmy and Kenny looked at Naomi and sang along with her.


Naomi sang more.


Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound

That saved the wretch like me


I once was lost now I found

Was blind but now I see


Tony lifted his head from the counter table. He looked at Naomi on the stage. His face was dried up after large amount of tears streamed down.


Naomi looked back at Tony with a little relief. Naomi stopped singing. Inside the bar was still big silence. Tony pulled out a dollar bill from his pocket. He placed the dollar bill on the counter. The pen was in the box on the counter, so he took it out and wrote something. It was his name.


He approached the board hanging on the wall where the dollar bills were pinned. He removed one of the pins that had been nailed into the edge of the board, slammed his own dollar bill against the board, and stabbed the pin into the middle of the dollar bill.


Tony said loudly.


"I'm going to Vietnam to crush the Communists."


Tony ran to the door and out of the bar. Jimmy followed.


Kenny stared at them from the counter. Naomi stared at the scene and stood still when the master approached her.


"What the hell, are you doing? Singing an out-of-place song!"


Naomi walked off the stage in a daze and Jimmy and Tony got worried and opened the bar door and walked out. Naomi was moved and felt palpitations.


Outside, it was quiet Henoko in 2018. But Naomi still had palpitations.


To be continued to Chapter 7

22:50 Posted in Music, My novel | Permalink | Comments (0)

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