Just Another Day by Gilda Bastías Villagrán He thought everything had been a dream when he heard it... Years ofprotests, rallies, bed-ins, sit-ins, and all the possible forms of “ins” had come to anend. “Surreal” was the only word he could think of at that moment. His face wentpale; his absent look described the surprise he felt, his hands were shaking and hedropped the cup of coffee he had prepared minutes ago. Was the war over? Wasthis another trick of the government? Questions that Anthony couldn’t stop askinghimself... He was skeptical and didn’t know what to do or think. A cold sweat randown his back, and a bizarre thought invaded him: “If it’s true, what am I going todo now?” Another normal day of living the life of a fugitive had started a couple ofhours ago. Like every day, Anthony would get up, wait for the phone calls thatwould reveal the strategies to be followed that day, and he would begin a new dayin the struggle for peace and justice. Nothing foretold that that day his life wouldchange so dramatically once again. Six years ago he had made a decision that had changed his life for the firsttime. His involvement with the Anti-War Movement had brought both bitterness andhappiness to his life. He had lost his family; he had gained a bigger one. He hadlost his very well-paid job; he had gained a twenty-four hour job with no payment.He had lost everything, he had won freedom. However, Anthony had no regrets, ashe felt that the cause was worth fighting for. Now he was living his life the way hehad always wanted to. Coming from a wealthy Republican family, he never thought his life wouldchange so dramatically after the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War: “I have todo something,” he had thought at that moment. And so he did. He became anactivist, a fugitive, a dreamer, a believer. He was 25 when he decided to leaveeverything behind and dedicate his life to the movement. He had never beenpleased with his life or with the way his parents made him live it. They had forcedhim to marry an aristocratic American woman for whom Anthony had no feelings.
His marriage had been a three-year lie and a three-year nightmare for him. His wifewas a calculating woman who never cared about him or his feelings. The only thingshe could think of was parties and dresses. “Life with her is like a neverendingdinner party,” he used to say to his parents, but they were too busy finding a newexotic location for their next vacation to care about what Anthony had to say. “Howcan I go on with this fake life?” Anthony would ask himself every night as he wentto bed with his spouse by his side. “This can’t be all there is,” he used to think whilewe was falling asleep, his wife’s warm skin contrasting with how cold theirrelationship was. God knows how hard he had tried to lead this kind of life, but henever felt the slightest bit of excitement or joy for it. And then, what everybody wasexpecting to happen happened—an event that marked Anthony’s fate forever. After being attacked by North Vietnamese gunboats, President Johnson hadordered the U.S. Navy and the Airforce to strike back in North Vietnam. For manyU.S. citizens—and for the whole world, for that matter—the U.S. involvement in thiswar was absurd and ridiculous. Anthony, however, used to recall this day on a dailybasis and always remembered it as the day his soul was set free. It had beenanother hot and humid summer Sunday. Families, trying to escape the heat of thecity, had run away to their houses in the suburbs. The temperature had climbed upto 98°F, and the sun had no mercy as it burned the pale skin of Anthony and hisfamily. As usual, everyone in the family but Anthony headed to the backyard wherethe swimming pool and the big chestnuts were, trying to avoid the relentless sun.Anthony observed them from the luxurious living room where his mother kept theVictorian furniture, and where all the paintings of his ancestors were hanging fromthe crisp white walls. While staring at this picture that seemed so fake to him, helistened to the news on the radio and heard about the attacks of U.S. troops inNorth Vietnam. The contrast between seeing his family enjoying themselves in thegarden and hearing the horrifying news amplified what he had been feeling for solong. So on that day, and without a good-bye, he left for good. That day, Anthonyturned his numb life around. After selling everything that could tie him down to his past, he became anactivist for the Anti-War Movement, joining the Students for a Democratic Society.
Family, friends, home—everything was in the past now and there was no wayback. In spite of the theselosses, Anthony felt for the very first time like a part ofsomething important. Since then, every day had been worth living and fighting for. Every day wasfull of excitement. Every day, a battle for ideals, dreams, values, peace, and lovewas waged. Every day, humankind was filled with hope. Within months, Anthony became a model for his fellow compatriots, whorecognized in him the values of peace and love. But becoming such a prominentfigure had also brought problems with the police, as he had become one of thelocal icons for maintaining peace. Although the protests were peaceful, there wasalways a reason for the police to break up the marches and disperse them. Six years of protests; six years of chosen loneliness; six years of living anew life, different from the one he was born into; six years that had gone by soquickly and yet so slowly. Six years of deep scars that no one but him could see...His whole life passed in front of him in a matter of seconds. And there he was, getting ready for another day of peaceful protests, of civildisobedience, of fighting his own war. Walking around his small apartment, feelinganxious like every morning, waiting for today’s intructions, and wondering wherelife would take him today. Anthony poured himself a cup of coffee, walked to theliving room, switched on the TV, and heard the announcer say, “The war is over.”