Over the course of my career as a psychologist, I have met with many, many combat veterans. As they have shared their stories of war and loss, I have become increasingly opposed to war. The damage to body, mind, and spirit is horrific beyond words with too many veterans suffering internally and too many ending their lives because of pain becoming unbearable.
In the course of this work, I have been privileged to meet many heroes. Some were heroic in a traditional sense such as a veteran who pulled two soldiers from a burning hooch. Others were heroic in a more quiet way such as the WWII veteran who quietly suffered daily nightmares for over 60 years without complaint.
This weekend many of the veterans I know will be grieving as they think of beloved comrades who died in combat or at their own hands. Some had best buddies die in their arms. Others found their comrades dead from suicide. Many of these same veterans ask themselves the question that has no answer “Why them and not me?”
Some will take comfort in spiritual beliefs, convinced their comrades are in a better place, no longer suffering. All will cry, often in private.
Among other things, I will think of my great aunt Margaret. I was sitting visiting with her back in the late 1960s. She was in her late 80s at the time. She looked at me and asked “Richard, what do you think of this war (Viet Nam)?” By my reckoning, the Viet Nam War was the fifth war my aunt had lived through. I told her I didn’t think it was a good thing. , She said “Neither do I” then sadly shook her head and said “So many young men..” It was the finest anti-war sentiment I’ve ever heard.
I oppose war not because of any political belief. I oppose it because of what it does to body, mind, and spirit. I oppose it because there are too many families that will gather around photos and tombstones next Sunday grieving an absence. Indeed, Aunt Margaret. So many young men. And women.
In memory of my fallen military brothers and sisters, I share this tribute courtesy of Trace Adkins
Thank you for your beautiful, wise words (yours were nice too, Dr. Patterson).
“After Auschwitz we know what mankind is capable of. After Hiroshima, we know what is at stake”. (Viktor, Frankl, MD, PhD). The conundrum is this: What is to be done about oppression and aggression? If we fight evil with evil, then the innocent will suffer. But if we let evil go unopposed, the innocent will also suffer.