Remembering those who have protected us from harm.
That’s what Memorial Day is all about.
My dad rarely talked about the war. He was in the Philippines. WWII. He loved telling a story about letters my mother wrote. They were just dating back then. She would number each one. He would discover, to his great dismay, that one number was skipped. 32, 33…35.
He would scour the island for that letter.
That wily woman had never written it.
Mother would just smile in her chair, as he teasingly regaled us with one more rendition of the story.
He would show the bullet wound in his leg — the piece of shrapnel he kept in his jewelry case. And he would make jokes about being wounded.
The serious stuff? The fear? What it’s like to see people die beside you?
Dad never talked about it, at least with me.
Last weekend, we passed through Mayflower, Arkansas on the expressway. The site of the EF-4 tornado several weeks ago.
We had passed through there two weeks before, on our way to get our son from college. It had taken at least 45 minutes to go 2 miles. The deadly winds had crossed the highway, and people were craning their necks to stare at all the rubble and debris. Complete ruin. 15 people dead in Arkansas alone.
Now people were casually noticing as they whizzed through. You couldn’t help but notice.
All of our lives have gone on, returned to normal.
Maybe that’s how soldiers feel when they come home. That our lives have remained safe. We make a big deal at first, when they come home. Then everything goes on.
I know that’s how people who experience other kinds of trauma and loss feel. That somehow, even after what they have gone through, they have to reweave themselves into normal life. Even though they don’t feel the same anymore. Those around them can try to empathize, but really can’t.
Soldiers have physically survived.
Now it’s about emotional survival.
Maybe that’s why Dad didn’t talk. It was his way of surviving.
I think he did with other vets. I remember he was written about in a book by a fellow soldier. A little short reference, but he was in there. His face lit up when he talked about it. He called the guy. They had a long private conversation.
This Memorial Day, I will remember my dad and all the people that have served to protect us.
Thank you. For what you talk about.
And all that you don’t.
If you are a veteran or know of one who might be suffering with depression or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, please know that there are resources to help at the VA. Click here for the link. Sometimes what you have experienced is overwhelming. You can get better if you get treatment.
There are many ongoing efforts in Arkansas and other states for tornado victims. Please give if you can. Click here.
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