What Was Lost at Fort Sill by Keith Yahrling
...Something was lost, but it wasn’t ours, and if not here, we’d only have lost it somewhere else. The young always do. That is why we remember the young who die too soon to lose
anything but their lives.
They will always believe the world is simple, and they only die once...
W.D. Ehrhart. “Finding My Old Battalion Command Post.” Beautiful Wreckage, New & Selected Poems
Along the Wichita Mountains in Southwest Oklahoma is Fort Sill, a sprawling Army base that was first settled in 1869 during the American Indian Wars. A hundred years later, in 1969, my father, still a teenager, was stationed here for field artillery training before deploying to Vietnam.
Nearly 50 years later, young soldiers train at Fort Sill in much the same way they did when my father was there. Looking at the cyclical actions of current soldiers, What Was Lost At Fort Sill uses their experiences to reimagine my father’s time on base. In an effort to find what my father lost so many years ago, I have put myself along side soldiers who are learning the very same techniques, on the same weapons, and in the same landscape my father witnessed.
For my father and the men and women training there now, Fort Sill is only the entry point into a world of loss. Eventually, they will accumulate a loss of youth, of time, of innocence, of freedom, of individuality, and for some, the ultimate loss.
Keith Yahrling lives and works in Philadelphia, PA.
To view more of Keith’s work, please visit his website.