"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A past reflection

I posted this three years ago, but I still can't think of a thing I'd add to it. So here it is again.

* * * * *

I don't come from a particularly military family. My dad was in the Air Force during the Korean War. He said he was also in WWII, but by my calculations, he would have been 14 at the time, so I have my doubts. We'll leave that discussion for another time.

As for the other family members, my mom's dad could not go to war in WWII because he was 4F due to bad eyesight. Apparently this made things awkward, since his name was Hansel Wetherholt, a very German moniker. He never spoke of it, but my grandmother hinted a couple of times about how high they had to post the flag to please the neighbors.

Their son, my uncle Larry, was a Marine, stationed in post-war Tokyo. The only stories I ever heard him tell about the service were all about he and his buddies getting drunk and causing some kind of commotion. These were interesting memories at his funeral, when the local Marines showed up to tell everyone how well Larry represented the Marines and how proud they were to have him as a brother in the Corps. Seriously?

All that being said...

I do think about the sacrifices service men and women have made for our country, and I am grateful. This includes the times I thought our country was making a mistake. I admire the people who sign up to the task of working for a safer, better United States, and who continue to work within our government to fulfill their duty, even when they disagree with the politics.

I may be a writer. I may be able to create characters in tough situations. But on a personal note, I can't imagine what it's like to be in combat, to walk through a strange terrain, wondering if my next step is on a land mine, or a meeting with an enemy's bullet. Then, to come home and not be able to lose that feeling of "waiting for the other shoe to drop," trying so hard to fit in and wishing your family understood.

For those of you who came home, I thank you, from the bottom of my heart. For those who didn't come home, I thank you also, from the depth of my soul.

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