Thursday, November 11, 2010

11 November 2010

This is always a difficult day for me. On the one hand, my country celebrates my military service. Part of me wants to accept that recognition and honor, to proudly wear my Combat Infantryman's Badge and remind my fellow Americans that Yes, I did that shit. On the other hand, part of me remembers that service as a moral compromise in an illegal war. And there's really nothing I can do to resolve the dilemma. It's who I am. I've been carrying that load for 40 years now. I've pretty much come to terms with my choices but I'm never entirely at peace them either.

When I took my chances with military service in 1970, I thought I would "just get it over with" and get on with my life. My biggest worry was that I would die in the process so when I made it out alive, I had every intention of getting on with life now that war was behind me. Except that it wasn't behind me, it was part of me. I learned the hard way that war never ends.

Over at The Galloping Beaver, PSA has a heartfelt remembrance of his father that tells the story more eloquently than I can.
My old man, H.J. Stewart spent twenty years in uniform with the sappers, crawling across North Africa with Montgomery, in the belly of a liberty ship on D-Day and witnessing the liberation of the camps. He left the forces after having been held as a political prisoner during the Suez crisis, just another pawn in the cold calculus of geopolitics. All the horrors he saw and experienced, every loss and privation he endured did unspeakable harm to him. His PTSD was never diagnosed or treated and his paranoia and violent breaks with reality did lasting damage to my mother, my sisters and I. War breaks the survivors and the victors and the echoes of that damage carry force long beyond the last report of a rifle.

That's why I prefer the British-Canadian name for today's observance: Remembrance Day.

The world would do well to remember the never-ending cost of war.

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Blogger cile said...

Thinking of you. I agree, Remembrance Day, seems a more appropriate moniker. Thank you for posting the Galloping Beaver excerpt. I went over and read the entire post. A good read. Peace.

5:46 PM  

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