Alive Day

9 09 2007

There is a pressure in my chest.  I fear the ripple effects of war in general.  I know the pain that it causes and how it changes people to their core.  I feel for the wives and the children, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends. 

My dad fought in the Vietnam War, serving a one year tour.  That one year changed the course of his entire life.  He was in the army and he was a good soldier.  He suffered much trauma, of which he rarely spoke.  The few stories that he would tell are seared into my brain.  I try to put myself in his shoes and feel what he felt.  I know that in all my trying I will never come near to the agony that was experienced.

My dad was unable to fall asleep unless he was wasted.  He spent most days drinking.  He was a highly functioning alcoholic.  He was able to hold down a job and financially provide for his family.  Emotionally, however, he was void.  He loved, I believe, as best he could.  His way of showing it was by buying us what we wanted.  He could not delve into his emotional side because to do so would be to face the monster in him created by fighting in Vietnam.

He describes the situation simply as a “kill or be killed, and I came back alive.”  He was trained to kill and that is what he did for  a year of his life.  At the same time, he witnessed dozens of his comrades, men he had grown to know, trust and respect, be killed.  Combine that with an unwelcome homecoming, and his trauma was set; it was deep and there would be no recovery.

I witness how it effected my parents marriage, how my dad interacted with my sisters and me and how he dealt with life in general.  He worked and he drank.  All of his energy went into those two things.  I often think about what life would have been like for my dad if he had made different choices.

He also suffered from survivor’s guilt.  I recall countless conversations me trying to convince him to be grateful for his life and appreciate all the he had been blessed with.  The grief kept him from reaching a place of acceptance and joy.  And that continues to break my heart to this day.

All this to say that war effects not only the soldiers and not only the ones with physical scars-it effects all soldiers, and their families.  My prayer is that support is available and accessible to those suffering.  My goal is to do what I can to support our troops.  I have adopted a soldier from www.soldiersangels.com.  Little is expected compared to what our soldiers are sacrificing.  For me this is not a political issue, it is personal.  There is nothing I can do to stop the war or change what is going on, but I can help one person feel that there is someone out there who cares and is praying for him or her.

And if you didn’t catch the HBO special, Alive Day, I strongly recommend it.  And I would love to hear others thoughts and feelings. 

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One response

10 09 2007
Sandy

I haven’t seen the movie, but I have witnessed firsthand what the war can do to a family. Craig served two tours to Iraqi and each time he came home as a different man. I don’t know if it’s fair to blame the war on the demise of our marriage, but I can say that it played a huge part.

I can remember a few times where we were driving and heard a tire blow out, immediately he would go back to being in Iraq,yelling for us to get down and take cover. Or how dizzy he was when he first landed back in the state because for a year all he saw were shades of brown sand and the different colors make him sick.

When he decided against reenlisted I could tell that he was unsure, after all he was leaving his brothers in arms. I still feel bad for him because life is not the same for him. I would like to believe the he could become the old Craig, but I know that man is gone forever.

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