It is the official Memorial Day that is a dual day of celebration and mourning where stories abound of the ravages of war. The damages. The cost of lives a bitter end. There are some veterans who refuse to pay tribute because it reignites phantom memories they would rather see buried. I’ve known some who can’t be around July 4th because the constant barrage of fireworks triggers those horrific days in a violent manner.
Psychologists would have these veterans in group therapy or on drugs, spilling their visions over and over again until the toll is unbearable. In my dad’s day the philosophy of thought was never ever talk about it – to anyone. Ever. And that was a sacred trust that we shared.
Once, when asked by my sister to provide an account of his time in the military for a school project he drew a map of every continent with lines depicting his detachments across the globe. It was like a flight pattern. And that was all he would offer.
From that silence, I realized the only way to crawl out of the trench imposed by the military and the elitist betrayal of life was to live life to the fullest. The best revenge! Much like the best revenge in a divorce is to be happy! And this is how my dad ultimately found peace.
He was not the sort of General that Hollywood typically depicts. In fact, none of the Generals we grew up with were anything at all like those caricatures on the celluloid screen. They were fun, they loved to party, rarely did they get angry, and they all hung together as a unit owning a shared history.
There was no sinister psychopathic attitude, that was reserved for the nonmilitary elitists who gained control of the Pentagon and turned it into a roiling pool of toxic waste. It was this revelation that led to retirement en masse. Those who were raised with honor, integrity and respect saw the depravity within. An awakening.
While troops died, while men and women were struck down, the masses turned on them and the media portrayed them as the enemy. Men and women who gave everything, who believed in freedom, who believed in sacrificing themselves were suddenly hated.
Today, it is even worse as we witness the cosmic Jokers who have done nothing, whose lives are a pitiable pallor in comparison, liken themselves to our troops. Compare their fears to being in the midst of a war. Disgusting. Completely denigrating.
Shame on THEM!
While my father did not die in a war, he died as result of the military’s use of men as guinea pigs. He was a part of the Nevada nuclear testing in the 1950’s. Officers were required to stand and observe the fallout of the bombs while enlisted men had some cover in trenches. Time after time they stood and ‘observed’. All of those officers died young some 20 years later riddled with cancers contracted from being nuked.
He called each of us to his side separately to say good-bye. I was the first, and so I got to spend his last days still home and somewhat active when the pain was endurable. I spent one of those days swabbing the deck of his sailboat, Gestalt.
GESTALT: The perception of patterns. Putting oneself as fully as possible into the experience of the other without judging, analyzing or interpreting while simultaneously retaining a sense of one’s separate, autonomous … Presence.
I imagine that was not merely a coincidental name for his sailboat.
My father was thus deprived of what should have been his final years. But even in death he was resolute and stated that it was not the fault of the military – he had made a choice to serve, and the consequences of that service were emboldened in him.