I just got back from reading (not near enough and I’ll go back until I’ve read it all) The Homeless Veteran’s Survival Guide.(Click on the link on the right) Wow. I’m
speechless typeless. But it got me thinking about all of the veterans I know. And with it being almost Veteran’s Day, of course, you know me, I have some things I’ve thought about and I’ll tell it to you now.
I’ve never known a veteran who didn’t have survivor’s guilt. And I’ve never understood it. Because I’ve never known a veteran that wasn’t an amazing person, so it always surprises me that they could wonder why they are alive.
What would we do without the survivors? Who could tell us what it was like where they were? Who else could tell us the stories that need to be told? The good ones as well as the bad ones? All stories have a place. All stories need to be told. Our veterans have precious stories that only they can tell. They are the owner’s of the last moments of the fallen. I don’t just mean the moments that took their lives, but all the times in between when they were last home and their deaths.
The surviving veterans are the only people who can make human beings out of the untouchable heros the fallen become. Please don’t think I mean they shouldn’t be seen as heros, because I know they ARE heros. But they were also real people with all the quirks and mannerisms that real people have. The survivors are the only ones who can put that back into our family for us.
And if we didn’t have the survivors, who would let us know the kind of people our family would have been if they had lived? We need to know that they would have been real people, all different kinds of real people. Someone we could touch, feel, love, get angry at, talk to on the phone, forgive, you know? The survivors are the ones that let us know that the fallen were not some unattainable godlike beings, but real human people. Fathers, Mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives and cousins and friends.
My Dearest Husband’s father died in Vietnam when MDH was three years old. He has very few memories of his own. Of course all of the stories of his father are epic in proportion, as they should be. But the vets let him see the kind of man his father would have been if he had lived. He told me one time that he wouldn’t wish that one single vet was in his father’s place. He is THAT much his father’s son. The survivors are a comfort to him. They give freely to him their memories of his father and his fathers time and place.
NO ONE could do that but a survivor. So where does the guilt come from? We need you! It’s a painful job, but you were chosen to be the ones who represent the fallen. And in my own opinion, you are all doing a damn fine job! Only a hero could do what you have done for those of us left behind. You guys got the hard part.
TO ALL THE VETERANS : THANK YOU FOR SERVING OUR COUNTRY. THANK YOU FOR SURVIVING. THANK YOU FOR BEING WHO YOU ARE. THANK YOU FOR COMING HOME TO BE WHO WE NEED AND FOR REPRESENTING WHO OUR LOVED ONES WOULD HAVE BEEN IF THEY HAD COME HOME. THANK YOU FOR THE STORIES, FOR THE HUMANITY, AND FOR THE WONDERFUL JOB YOU DO BEING YOU. FOR ONE DAY, FOR JUST A LITTLE WHILE, LET YOURSELF BE HAPPY THAT YOU SURVIVED SO THAT YOU COULD BE OUR HEROS.