I dont remember how old I was, or how old He was at the time. I know it was before I had my first son. Maybe a year before or somewhere along those lines. We were told to do a book report on war veterans. So i figured, instead of writing about some war that I only read in books or looking up some soldier whose name I wouldn’t remember after the book report was turned in, I decided to sit with My Father in the kitchen and tell His story about his experience in the Korean War.
He was around 16 or 17 at the time. He couldn’t recall the place where he was at, only that he was sleeping in a trench for days. Talking to his buddies, the enemy lines not far from where they were. He remembered getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom out in the woods. He was gone from his spot for a while, probably about a half hour or so. And then coming back to his post and falling asleep. When He woke up, He turned over to his buddy, and saw the blood. He turned him over and his throat had been slit. He went over to the next soldier. And the next one. And the next one. All around him, His comrades were dead. Throats slit and He stayed in that trench for days, screaming. His battalion found Him days later, unable to move or speak. They took him back to the main camp and He couldn’t remember how long he had been there. But this teenager, who went out there for whatever reason; to see the world, to kill people, to do something more than what he was doing back in the states, got more than what He bargained for.
My Father never really liked to talk about The War. Too many bad memories of things he had done or seen. Some things you cant really explain to a person, let alone a child who is sitting there asking all sorts of questions with a tape recorder in your face.
I remember one day we went to Battery Park to the memorial. Throughout the day He was fine until he got to the site and then he just started weeping. Another Veteran went up to Him, someone who never met My Father in His life, and just hugged him, rubbed his shoulders and kept saying “its ok, brother, its alright.” Even then as a child I couldn’t understand why a complete stranger would comfort My Father and call Him Brother. Now, all grown up and seeing wars plastered on the tv and in the newspaper, I understand to an extent: Why there’s a need to have a Brother. When you put your life in someone else’s hands, that unspeakable bond that happens when you share something that painful, that life changing. Its a language that a civilian couldn’t possibly comprehend.
I’m not a fan of War. I mean, who really is? Except politicians of course but that’s a whole other post.
Fathers, Mothers, Sons and Daughters..Sisters and Brothers:
I can never understand, but I am grateful that they would put their lives on the front lines so I can sit here and have an opinion.
I aced that book report, by the way.