When I visited my old teammate Al Kroboth’s house in New Jersey, I spent the first hours quizzing him about his memories of games and practices and the screams of coaches that had echoed in field houses more than 30 years before. Al had been a splendid forward-center for the Citadel; at 6 feet 5 inches and carrying 220 pounds, he played with indefatigable energy and enthusiasm. For most of his senior year, he led the nation in field-goal percentage, with UCLA center Lew Alcindor hot on his trail. Al was a battler and a brawler and a scrapper from the day he first stepped in as a Green Weenie as a sophomore to the day he graduated. After we talked basketball, we came to a subject I dreaded to bring up with Al, but which lay between us and would not lie still.
“Al, you know I was a draft dodger and antiwar demonstrator.”
“That’s what I heard, Conroy,” Al said. “I have nothing against what you did, but I did what I thought was right.”
“Tell me about Vietnam, big Al. Tell me what happened to you,” I said.
Don’t miss the rest, which foreshadows similar essays to be written in the coming decades about our current conflicts.