Do I ever want to tell them anything? Will this war still be raging in some form or another in the future? I would like to tell them why dad volunteered to go fight, about how noble his intentions were, how romantic the notion of going to war was supposed to be. How when you get there it loses all of that. In combat, you might wonder why you volunteered in the first place. How, if this moment is your last, then you are truly sorry that you will never see your children’s faces, that you are responsible for their mother and you wish you would never have met her if only to spare her from the pain of seeing a government vehicle arrive at her front door. What do you say about the joy of victory or the knowledge that doing your best that day meant that someone else lost. Do you tell them that years later you would wonder what all the loss was for…at least on our side since you have no remorse for theirs? Wondering whether all that you and yours sacrificed made any difference?
Would I tell my children about loving my brothers and sisters in arms, and that bonds were forged that might fade but never be forgotten? Would I say that love of country is greater after coming home than at any time before you left? That I believe in our country and would gladly go back to war if only to protect others from the horrors I know? How do I explain that the war continues… that every day I wake knowing that it goes on…and as such I never feel like I have given enough of myself? Even if that means by going back, I may never see my children again…
As the child of a veteran I now understand what my father tried to tell me about war … what he tried to relay about love of country and my fellow countrymen. What he said of civic responsibility and rights earned. I never would have learned his truth had I not walked in his shoes.
I am left wondering what all of those who have sworn an oath, stood the line, and lived to come home before me have said. I think in the end there is not much for me to say that they will understand so I will keep it simple, at least for a while. I will say that dad went to war and one day I saw the most beautiful mountainside. The skies were piercing blue and that me and my brothers were safe.