The 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour, we pause to commemorate (what we call in the United States) Veterans Day. My father was a World War II veteran (non combat) as was my father in law, but many others have paid the ultimate price to defend their countries.
Sometimes, that price isn't death, but something the veteran lives with for the rest of his/her life.
Many years ago, when we were a lot younger and my spouse was serving in
the military, we befriended a younger single man. At the time we were
stationed in Kansas. This young man had grown up in Missouri. One day
he invited us to his parents' home in rural Missouri.
I got the feeling this invitation was quite a leap of faith for him. That
he didn't do this kind of thing very often. We accepted the invitation and spent a weekend with his family.
His father was a Korean War veteran. It was a Saturday night and,we
were warned, the father was going to overindulge in alcohol. And so he
It was obvious that this inebriated older man was reliving his
experience in war. He was in the middle of a battle. He shouted out
commands. He fought demons only he could see. Finally, he was carried
Our friend's mother explained this happened every weekend. Long ago,
the father was young and in battle. His commanding officer was killed.
The Dad received a battlefield promotion and he was suddenly in
charge. It did something to him, hurt him in a way he was never able
to recover from. Every Saturday night he would seek solace in the
bottle. Although he relived the battle and was obviously suffering, in
the morning he would remember nothing.
I have never been in war. I know people who have. I know people who
were civilian casualties of war, too. But this Korean War veteran has
stuck in my mind over many years. We never received another
invitation. We drifted apart when our friend, sadly, became more
interested in drugs than in our friendship. In his own way he fought
I wish I could tell our friend today we were not ashamed of what we
saw. I wasn't mature enough then to understand. Now maybe (maybe) I
am. My friend's father passed away in 2015. I hope that he has found peace at