Battlefield Memories–The Good, The Bad, and the Funny
As a child, I remember my dad’s night terrors, brought on by memories of the Vietnam War. For years he didn’t talk about the war. When he finally did, the first memories he shared were the funny ones. He talked about he and his squad being chased by the Viet Cong into a gold mine in the mountains of Vietnam and how he wished he could take another trip to that mine, wherever it might be, and he talked about one of his friends being physically put in place by my little slip of a mom. When we’d go visit our Uncle Ray, who served in the Marines in the Pacific Theater in World War II, he and my dad would sit around talking about the hooch and the antics of friends–it was amazing that though decades separated the two wars, the people and the stories were always similar. When I got older, my dad started sharing the hairier tales. My husband’s grandfather served thirty years in the Air Force, starting when it was the Army Air Corp, and his experiences and stories are full of the same camaraderie, hint of danger, and inflection of sadness that seem to accompany the recollections of all the military men in my life.
The stories of my dad, uncle, and grandfather-in-law probably aren’t all that uncommon from the tales of other soldiers. There are stories of love and loss, friendship and fire that surround all the men and women of our military. However, if you never take the time to stop and listen, to talk and ask questions of those who have served, you’ll miss out on sharing the good, the bad, and the funny. You’ll miss out on appreciating the inner strength and beauty of these individuals who go about the daily duty of their lives, often without recognition, not even expecting or asking for it really.
But this weekend is about taking a moment and remembering them, so thank someone who has served or is serving our country, remember they are people with colorful lives and rich histories, people who have stories to tell if you’ll just take a moment to listen.