Ties That Bind
What would it be like to live with a group of people everyday for 6 months, 9 months, a yr or longer? Not only living with them but fighting along side of them. Seeing things a person should never have to see in their lives. Having close friends die right in front of you. You know their families, their histories, their loves and their fears. Then you have to go out on a regular basis and fight for your lives together every day. That is what many military veterans live with their whole lives. The highs and lows, the joys and pains, the life and death of people they become very intimate with.
Now, I am going to say this before I go any further. I have never been in battle, I have been to the war zone 100’s of times but have never had to fire at another person nor had one fire at me or my crew. Everything I will be saying in this post will be from stories I have heard first hand, read in a book or seen in a movie. But from talking with some older vets who have seen MUCH more than I would even want to see, I think many books and movies depict how they could be feeling.
We are not Heroes
I cant think of any vet that I know that truly believes we are heroes. Yes it is flattering and very humbling that many people put us in that category but we don’t see ourselves as that. We signed up to do something that only a small percentage of our country do, we will put our lives on the line for everyone’s freedom. I guess the closet thing I could compare it to is a child. Many children look to their parents as heroes but do you think of yourself as a hero being a parent? It humbles you a little to hear them say it to you but in all honesty, is that how you picture yourself?
Many of our military personnel are put in situations that require quick decisions and reactions that the whole team must make or everyone or at least many will die. We don’t do it thinking this is going to get me some kind of medal, we do it because we know lives are on the line. The men and women who do this in battle form some of the deepest bonds that will ever be forged.
Closer than Family
I have spoken with many vets from the Vietnam and WWII era and you can see the pain in their eyes when certain things come up or they remember a name of someone during their time at war. You can see the love and compassion they have for the people they had to sweat blood for. They love these men and women more deeply than most of us could even fathom. I have heard wives say that even they do not feel like they are the number one person in their spouses life, there is a deeper love for the unit and the men from that unit than there is for them. This doesn’t mean that their spouse doesn’t love them, far from it, as it of course is a different kind of love but it is something the spouse will never be able to replace.
I don’t envy the pain that these veterans carry with them everyday. And of course, not all of their memories are bad memories, sadly though, most of the deepest ones are. Like I said, I have never been in battle and the closest I can come to this is one crew I was with for 47 days. We did everything together and though we never faced a single bullet, when we returned home, I felt a small loss as I knew we as a small group, would never fly together again. We would see each other in the squadron and one or two of us may fly together again, but we would not be flying together as we had those 47 days.
A Standout Conversation
About a yr ago, we had someone come in for a closing at our office and my broker told me that the husband was a Vietnam Vet. I didn’t want to bother them during the closing but he came out to take a break and walked past my desk. I got up and introduced myself to him and we got to talking about the Military. Come to find out, he was a sniper in Vietnam, two tours if I am not mistaken.
As we talked, I noticed that from time to time he would stare out the front window of our office. I finally realized that he wasn’t being rude, he was actually going back in his mind and re-living those moments he was sharing with me. I am not going to lie to you, once I realized how deep of memories he was sharing with me, I was in awe and felt an immediate sense of honor as he felt comfortable enough with me to share some of these memories. Even now as I type this and share my experience with this man, I feel honored that he let me in like he did. I didn’t realize how long we were talking until about 30 min later his wife came out looking for him as she needed him to sign some stuff for the closing.
My Stupid Youth
I am happy that I had the conversation when I did in my life. I know had I spoken with him 20 yrs ago, it would not have the same meaning as it does now.
Sidetrack for a minute, I just remembered, he said he knows Carlos Hathcock. I know some are saying “who is that” but if you know anything about the military you will know he is one of the best snipers our country has ever seen.
Ok, back to my original thought. Had I spoken with him 20 years ago, I would not have been as interested. I was very self absorbed in my own awesome life to ever think someone else’s could be interesting. We as young adults miss so much when we think this way. I often think back to all I missed as I would humor guys telling me stories about their military lives and sharing with me the events from their time in the service. How much history I had missed that was first hand, not in a book, not on a movie screen, but right there in the flesh and blood, first hand history.
Back on Course – Brothers In Arms
Didn’t mean to steer too far off course there but now back to this blogs song. I heard this song and saw the video and immediately thought of a blog I could write. This blog was pretty easy actually, a bit long but thank you for hanging in on this one. There are a few different versions of this song and they show pics of military but this one was different to me. The tempo and soothing voice actually gets me to picture what the men are going through in these scenes. There is pain, suffering, confusion, anger, compassion and this song, the way it is sung, actually makes me feel all those emotions. Anyway, I hope you like it and maybe it will do the same for you.
Please feel free to leave a reply at the bottom and tell me what you think of any of my blogs. If any military veterans or those currently serving would like to share some of their experiences, I would welcome the sharing of your experiences.
Brothers in Arms – Dire Straights