I Want To Go To Lunch…

I think there is nothing that a non-veteran can say to a veteran that doesn’t sound a little trite.  Even a simple thank you sounds automatic and plastic to my ears.  I just don’t know what to say to someone who has experienced things I can’t even imagine, on my behalf.

Sometimes, when I hear a vet’s story about their time in the service,  I put myself in their place and wonder how I would fare in the same circumstances.

Bob was a bartender I worked with 32 years ago who was the only survivor in his squad after an ambush.  How would I feel if I was the only survivor in my squad? Bob came home paranoid and angry.  Who wouldn’t?  Unfortunately, it was difficult for him to blend socially.  He spent a lot of time on his own getting high. I didn’t work with him all that long-maybe three months-but he left an impression. I still think of him often.  I think of getting ambushed.  Bob gave me some advice:  Don’t stay still.  Charge the aggressor.  It might be your only chance.  I’ve never had to use his advice,  I wonder if I could?

Mike is a fellow blogger who shares my loathing of spiders. How would I cope if I were laying in bed and a giant spider dropped from above?  I know Mike endured a lot more than rogue spider encounters but whenever I think of veterans, I will always think of Mike vs the spiders. He brought the experience home for me via my very own phobia.

How would I feel being one of the first American soldiers to enter a German death camp, like my former neighbor?  How would I feel if my ship got bombed and the only place to go was overboard with the sharks like my father-in-law?  How would I feel being away from my family for months or even years?  How would I feel if  I made it home alive only to be treated like a social pariah?  What if the government that drafted me forgot about me?  What if I lost a leg or an arm or my sight?  What if I lost all those things?  How would I hold up under torture?  How long would I last as a prisoner of war? How would it feel to die never having held my own child?

Whenever I picture myself in military shoes, I channel Goldie Hawn in the movie, “Private Benjamin”.  “I want to go out to lunch.  I want to wear sandals.  I just want to be normal again.”  

I don’t believe I could do the things that veterans have done.  I’m thankful I haven’t had to face those tests.  I’m thankful that someone was brave enough to endure them on my behalf and equally embarrassed by my own cowardice.  I’m sad because no one should have to experience such things.  I know life is not easy.  I know that people suffer every day in myriad circumstances.  It just seems to me that war is one of the more avoidable circumstances.  It’s been around a long time so maybe I’m wrong.  Am I?  Is war an inescapable feature of the human condition or is it an avoidable by-product of the human condition?  What do you think?

This essay by Margaret Mead, argues that war is a bad invention that could eventually be replaced by a better invention if only society could come up with one.  It’s an interesting idea.  Why aren’t the Einsteins, Buffets and Gates of this world focused on this problem?  It would be great if one day the word “veteran” applied only to historical figures because war had become an outdated, abandoned method of dealing with strife.  It would be a more fitting, less trite tribute to all those who have served.

Chicken out

veterans

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  25 comments for “I Want To Go To Lunch…

  1. November 11, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Rodger that, Chicken. Bravo Zulu.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. November 11, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    So true, and so beautifully said.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. jenny_o
    November 11, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    It seems there are few original essays on Remembrance Day, but yours is one. Thank you for posting it, and thank you for the link to the Margaret Mead essay; I was not familiar with that, and it has given me something positive to think about. I tend to see war as inevitable, the result of a kind of personality trait that will always be with us because there will always be people with that trait among us, but I find the idea of war as an invention that could be replaced with a better one to be hopeful and uplifting.

    Like

    • November 11, 2014 at 10:09 pm

      HI Jenny-thanks. I found the essay uplifting also. I always like to think I’m being original but as it turns out ,the question of war being an invention of man vs a natural part of the human condition has been asked and examined by many people a lot smarter than me. If you are interested, just google it. There’s a ton of essays on the subject. I just liked this one because, as you said, it offers some hope for the future.

      Like

      • jenny_o
        November 11, 2014 at 11:17 pm

        I meant that what YOU wrote was original, leading into and surrounding the question. And I still think so.

        I really need to do some serious reading from time to time, but I often just put off looking for things that are going to make my brain cells line up and listen (because, she whined, it’s so HARD). So I always like it when a blogger’s link takes me to something good.

        Like

    • November 12, 2014 at 12:32 am

      Hi Jenny, oh I see, thanks so much. I understand it’s hard. Maybe your brain and my brain could put on our nice sandals and meet for lunch:-)

      Like

      • jenny_o
        November 12, 2014 at 7:31 am

        My brain would like that 🙂

        Like

  4. dbs
    November 11, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    Love this. So many important questions here. So much time wasted by our leaders focused on other things. Thank you feels trite to me too but our leaders should be embarrassed.

    Like

  5. Doug in Oakland
    November 12, 2014 at 1:37 am

    Thank you for posting this. It is difficult to know what to say to someone who has fought in a war. My approach has been to try listening to what they have to say, if they want to talk about it. The Margaret Mead essay reminds me of the writing of Daniel Quinn, who took the idea of war as an invention even further. He uses a narrower definition of war than she does, based on evolved methods of conflict resolution in the animal kingdom. He notes that humans are the only species that engages in warfare, and points out, like Mead, that not all of humanity does so. He says that we could learn some critically important lessons from studying the remaining cultures that don’t, if we can set aside our cultural biases that cause us to reject ways of living that are different from our own, His books “Ishmael”, “The Story of B” and “My Ishmael” are pretty much my favorite books ever.
    I’ve developed a habit of listening to Paul Simon’s song “Armistice Day” on Veteran’s Day to make myself remember that it used to be Armistice Day; the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month to mark the end of the war to end all wars, that we ended up having to assign a number to. Also, I really like the guitar.

    Like

    • November 12, 2014 at 2:17 am

      Hi Doug-what I like about you is that you always have a good suggestion for something else to think about or listen to. I’m not familiar with Daniel Quinn. Just loaded Ishmael onto my kindle to check it out. Thanks for the suggestion. Also, I’m glad I am not the only one who struggles with expressing gratitude towards our vets. Paul Simon is always cool!

      Like

      • Doug in Oakland
        November 12, 2014 at 11:39 pm

        Thank you for the kind words, and for reading Ishmael. I think that Daniel Quinn’s ideas are important and I hope you enjoy them.

        Like

  6. geo.
    November 12, 2014 at 3:37 am

    An excellent and admirable essay. But I’m afraid as long as there is failure of reason there will be war.

    Like

    • November 12, 2014 at 4:00 am

      Hi Geo-there’s plenty of lack of reason to go around. Still, you never know. Aliens?

      Like

  7. thesmittenimage
    November 12, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    Ahh well who am I to attempt to answer that? All I can do is echo your sentiments. Beautifully written, Chickie!

    Like

    • November 16, 2014 at 5:41 am

      Hi Hilary-thank you and thank you for including it in your Posts of the Week:-)

      Like

  8. Pat
    November 12, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    Great post and fantastic writing.
    “Bob” was probably suffering from something sometimes called “survivor’s guilt.”

    Like

    • November 13, 2014 at 12:27 am

      Hi Pat-yes, I think so. I’m pretty sure I would have, too. Thanks so much for the compliment.

      Like

  9. November 14, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    I came over from Hilary’s blog. loved your post. I am truly grateful for the armed forces who enable peace in their nations.
    War can certainly be avoided if we are truly willing to forget the past hurts and learn our lessons from them. We need not be best mates with our neighbours but learn to respect their right to live and freedom.
    Unfortunately, while many ordinary citizens agree with this and are willing to give it a shot, the power hungry and those that have a corrupt heart are not willing. Its very sad.

    Like

    • November 15, 2014 at 1:43 am

      Hi Ruby-thanks for visiting. I love Hilary’s blog! I believe it comes down to the leaders, as well, but let’s face it, we vote for our leaders. And then there’s big business. So many factors.

      Like

  10. AC
    November 15, 2014 at 1:41 am

    Thanks for your comment and for checking up on me lately. I was just thinking this week how our WWII vets are mostly gone already. These are close to being the last vets that Canada has. Anyway, as said above, your post is very original and very good. If I could write like that, I might blog more. 🙂

    Like

    • November 15, 2014 at 1:45 am

      Hey, thanks so much AC. That means a lot, coming from you, because I think you are great. I’ll see you around the blogosphere, I hope:-)

      Like

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