My grandfather was a reluctant hero. Most WWII vets are. There was never a need for them to share their experiences when they came home. The culture of post war America was almost Victorian and made it completely socially unacceptable for them to tell any story of the war that wasn’t sanitized. The WW II veteran did more than cow to the social convention of the era, they convinced themselves that society would not benefit from knowing of their sacrifice. It took almost two generations for these stories to come out.
Steven Spielberg was the first to show the masses that WWII veterans actually bled in the war.
There were no other stories my grandfather told that had the description and pain of those he told about the war. The only stories he painted perfectly were those of the worst days of his life. He would tell me that the war had motivated him to be a better husband, father to my mother and her twelve siblings — but it took something away from him that he would never get back.
I didn’t know what that was until I felt it missing in myself.
Today our nation still can’t handle stories like this. The masses support the troops, but cringe when they find out why the kid down the street is actually a hero. Few want to know why what we do is so worthy of support.
The population seemed too consumed by the victimizing stories of Jessica Lynch or the criminality of Lynndie England at Abu Gharib to waste time talking about Brian Chontosh or Jason Dunham. We can feel pity and outrage about circumstances that are common — Kidnapping or abuse. There are those who have no idea how to handle those who kill in the name of liberty. We are disturbed knowing that there is little in this life worth dying for, but so much that is worth killing over.
And if we lose that class of American, we lose our national soul.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
From blogger David Bellavia: