Monday, November 14, 2011

When The Warriors Come Home

Last night on my radio program we discussed Veterans Day and its ramifications of honor, horror and heroics. My radio partner is a Vietnam Vet and we invited an Admiral friend of mine (retired) to talk about how we as a nation have changed in the way we honor our servicemen and women.

After the broadcast, I remembered that my Uncle Jack fought in World War One with a Canadian infantry regiment.

I don’t know much about him accept he was a stepbrother to my Father. He was ten or so years older and certainly a great influence on my Father. I never met Jack; I just heard stories about him.

Jack survived the war, but like too many of our returning combat veterans from the Gulf and Afghanistan Wars, he could not survive coming home. He committed suicide sometime after the war ended.

War does things to those who are asked to fight it. Perhaps it’s because it is an unnatural condition in which to live. Some make it through OK and go on to lead productive lives. They bury their unpleasant memories in a mind vault that’s rarely, if ever, opened.

Other veterans like my Uncle Jack could not let go of the pain, the fog, and the psychological wounds of battle with images of dead buddies and slain bodies and no bandages to heal the hurt.

I often wonder about the Uncle I never met, and I also wonder why we haven’t learned very much in a hundred years.

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