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A Piece of My Mind
April 16, 2003

The "Magic" Word

Author Affiliations

A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 2003;289(15):1899-1900. doi:10.1001/jama.289.15.1899

In May 1969, I found myself a reluctant guest of the Viet Cong. My first thoughts—after those castigating myself for the stupidity of having been nabbed—were about my father, a gentle man, a World War II veteran. Though intercontinental communications were relatively primitive in those days, it was only hours before he learned that his son was missing in Viet Nam.

It wasn't until after I had been home for some time that I appreciated the power of worry to destroy. I learned that the physical pain of my ordeal paled in comparison to the terror my Pop experienced for the few days until he was notified that I had managed to slip away from my captors. Though he began to smile again a year after I got home, I'm not sure he ever recovered.