The only war stories I ever heard firsthand were from my grandfather. He shot at a Japanese plane once from the deck of his ship in the Pacific in World War II. That was it. That was all of the action he saw.

I remember interviewing him for the obligatory school project, listening to him tell me how awful war was, but not believing a single word of it. How could he really know? He barely fought in it.

War was romantic.

Instead I visited the library for my war education. I poured over books about Vietnam, the Crimean War, WW II, the Korean War. How did those people feel about the wars they fought in? What made them so terrible?

The horror of war was sexy and interesting.

Then, I tried to join the Navy. Not because of some noble sense of cause or desire to give back to my country. No. The uniforms looked nice and I wanted the US government to pay for medical school. 

Thankfully, I failed the medical screening for tachycardia.

Now I understand why. 

My heart was beating too fast because it knew what I did not understand yet. That I did not want to look someone in the eye and take their life. That I could not see the broken bodies of blown apart patients and help them try to put their lives back together when I could not give them their limbs back.


Because I am not brave. 

Determined, yes. But not brave. Can determination translate into bravery? I did not want to find out. Not that way.

When did war get so messy?

Now I can understand what my grandfather was saying.

I am exceedingly grateful that there ARE people, men and women, who regardless of what put them there in that uniform, find the courage to fight. I hope that they find peace.

And I am grateful for those who are the peacemakers, who save the lives of the living and the dead before they are lost. 


59 thoughts on “Veritable 

  1. You were lucky that you spoke with your grandfather about the war.
    Mine fought in WWII but the subject was off-limits in my family because his service haunted him until the end of his days.
    I told my ex a few years ago that I was going to ask him about it, but he died the next week.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. There were a few young women in my Nursing School class that were enlisted in the military and had their tuition covered that way. Then after they graduated they had to serve as Nurse officers. I thought I would not be able to take seeing the young men wounded and dying. One of my managers was in the Air Force and she told us during Viet Nam that they did not have the great triage field hospitals working, like now, and would put the wounded on planes. She was put on one of those planes by her commanding officer. She had to be in a plane with wounded and dying soldiers with only a few supplies and some pain medication and a couple of medics to help her.

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  3. You’re definitely lucky to have been able to speak with him about his service. Alot of my family were in the USAF. MY Daddy was stationed at the DMZ in Korea for 18 mos. in 1961 (“Police Action” was officially over but still fighting). My maternal Pop pop was in S Pacific theater in ww2. Their ship was bombarded by enemy fire, so the were dropped off with only their c rations. He also broke both elbows & when he returned home the trains windows were busted out in middle of winter. He then walked from Harrisburg to Lancaster Pa. My maternal great uncle freed concentration camp victims. I feel fortunate to know this & am honored to have them as my family. Utmost respect for our military service people.

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  4. I was born during WWII, and have lived long enough to remember every war and conflict since. I have had family members in every branch of the service. Most of them were involved in battle. Wounded yes, life lost none, thank goodness. However they are different men when they return home. They are haunted by what they lived through. Seeing their buddies get blown up, shot through the head. Yet they fought for the freedom we all enjoy to this day. God Bless all the service men and women who are in service to our country or have been in service. You are all hero’s.
    There is an interesting post on my blog about a letter that was found on a solider that was killed. The letter was found in his pocket. You might like to honor him today.

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  5. You are right – war is messy, and the people you are expected to kill are, by and large, just like you. War does something terrible to people. Take note of all the suicides and the veterans with PTSD.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I’m not brave, either. That’s why I enlisted in the Air Force. In basic training, my Flight Sergeant summed it up in his explanation of why he thought the Air Force is such a great branch to enlist in. He said that it’s the only branch of the service where the enlisted stay behind the lines, but send the officers into battle.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am glad to see how now we honor our vets. I am from an era where vets were chastised for serving. What a sacrifice these men and women made. I wish there was no such need for such foolishness as war.. But I am proud of those who have served. My family is all Navy, including my Sister -in-law who was a Nurse Lieutenant. Her stories of serving in Korea are all very romantic and I am sure that is how she chooses to remember.

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  8. Thank you, Victo, for your comments – I am not sure I could wage war either. But my son told me when he left for Afghanistan, then Iraq, “Mom, it’s what I’m trained to do, Don’t cry!” We sweated bullets for the three years he was in the Middle East.
    I pray for peace every day, but seeing what ISIS is doing does not reassure me that we won’t all be engaged in a war before long.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great post!
    I too had ‘sexy’ inferences to join the military. My mother, father, stepfather, brother, cousins, grandfather and a few friends are/were a part of different branches of the service. It was pretty tempting, especially when one was a recruiter for the Navy.
    I decided that I was more a ‘free-thinker’ and yes, war is ugly.
    I never want to kill someone because someone else says so.
    We need our military, though. Anyone with a decent knowledge of world history and current events, knows this.
    Years later I would survive a brain aneurysm (SAH, posterior communicating artery)- I then knew why then some things aren’t meant to be.
    Still I’m grateful and a little bit envious to those that serve. Blessings to them all.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I joined the Army because I thought I might get a trip overseas. It happened to be just after Vietnam and before all the hell that is the Middle East. But there were many who had come back from Vietnam and I wondered how I would have coped. It is all the spectrum from absolute evil and terror and hell all the way to heroism and sacrifice and glory and service. And the 11th of the 11th at 11am always brings a lump to my throat. And a man who served on a ship that could have been a target from the moment it left port until it returned home still served every one of those days knowing he could pay the price any minute of those days. Lest we forget.

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  11. I am thankful for them, too. But I also think you’re selling yourself short. You’re a LOT braver than you think. I don’t know many people who can look a young woman in the eye and tell her that her baby was stillborn, or who can tell a young man he’s got cancer and will never see his child through kindergarten, or who can tell a husband his wife has an inoperable brain tumor. Now that’s bravery! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  12. November 11, the date you posted, is the day Germany signed rendition of World War I. In 1918.
    That day you posted, I remembered my grandfather, who in 1915, was fighting one of the bloodiest war in the trenches. In his house in Brittany he had a german rifle, a Mauser. A war trophy. We never asked him how he got it. There were not many ways.
    Now, after November 13, I called my brother who kept the rifle. I asked if he’d taken the rifle apart and oiled it just in case? He laughed and told me I knew him well.
    in short: Let’s hear it for those who fought for us. And let’s hear it for all the medics in Paris who did an absolutely amazing job on Friday night.
    (French flag emoticon)
    Même pas peur!

    Liked by 1 person

      • The odds are low. But no fear. Même pas peur. If it does happen, you and I know that training will kick in. That’s what happened in Paris on Friday. The Police response was slow at best. The SAMU, public health emergency system clicked in a second. Ambulances were rushed to all sites. Personnel was recalled from all over the place. First aid was done on site for “triage”. The wounded were dispatched to half a dozen hospitals not just one. Some medics were crying, but not until they’d done their job. Hats down to them. 🙂
        No fear.

        Liked by 1 person

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