Monday, May 27, 2013

Remembering…because they can’t forget

I could skip into my garage, pirouette with my arms fully extended and not risk the domino effect of tumbling bikes, beach chairs and shovels.  And I have not been able to say or do that since 1999.  

This long Memorial Day weekend has been a success.  I cleared out behind the garage, thinned out the rafters above and delivered many items of no useful value to the curb.  Some of these objects were big and heavy and some were dated remnants of the previous owner.  I fear that the sanitation collectors will not be happy tomorrow.  My own exuberance is set to grow even greater though when the last of three window air conditioners and the carefully packed area rugs are soon hauled off to their new homes.

It rained hard in the early part of this 72-hour unofficial entrance to summer.  On Saturday morning our thermostat even began to call the boiler for heat before I shut it down.

So we took shelter through indoor visits, IHOP pancakes and fully engaging my fav bud as we watched ‘42’ on the big screen with Doritos and Arizona iced teas in hand.

And given that I have no musical ability I was then fully engaged watching MFB playing with kids mostly two grades older as the school band joined the VFW to honor the fallen along our finally sun soaked local streets this morning.

I never served in the military and I usually don’t pay attention to the various Memorial Day parades.  Ballgames, trail runs, golf and BBQ’s usually steal the time away.   

I know only of second hand stories.  And my father use to well up into too many tears to amply convey the tremendous amount of death, carnage and suffering the world endured to bring forth a change of directions during World War II.

But in a different business and a different time I was in my mid thirties when I helped impart some sales skills to a twenty-something year old veteran of Desert Storm.  

I remember one lunch break in particular.  We stopped at a Deli or Café of sorts with outside tables and chairs.  He took out some photos he had taken while the tanks had stopped.  The pictures were like no others I had ever seen.  They were images that would never make it to news reports, documentaries or even the most notable and honored films.  They were painfully harsh, unforgiving and merciless.  I was in shock upon viewing.  He was seemingly proud and excited.

We started back to my car and to our next scheduled appointment of the day.  Halfway there this young and strong man started to breathe oddly.  He then started to complain about palpitations and chest pain.  I rushed him to a nearby doctor I knew in the area.  The doctor took him in immediately and spent at least 45 minutes or perhaps an hour by his side in the examination room.  Luckily for him, this physician was experienced in treating PTSD.

An hour or two later we quietly left.  We quit work early; we had enough action for the day.  I never heard about those pictures again.  

I am confident, however, that the real reel still haunts and replay’s the gory camera roll in the mind of that former Marine each and every day.

Yes, a day to remember indeed.

© 2013 Christopher’s Views


  1. There are nightmares too vividly remembered every day that we rarely think about. My neighbour is moving soon, to be with her pregnant daughter whose military husband lost the battle with the demons that his PTSD caused him every day. A beautiful and kind man. He remembered all too well. And he won't be forgotten.

    I hope your Marine friend is doing better.

    A fine post, Christopher.

  2. PTSD is a terrible thing to live with day in and day out.

    A thoughtful post. And yes, a day to remember - but even more importantly, a day we should all learn from. I.e. that peace is worth so much more than war.

  3. Great one Chris. For many the battle and the horror never ends which makes the heroism so incredibly precious. I know YFB paid great honor to the men and women who have served for our country.

  4. Stunning story. The trauma that replays itself inside the heads of so awful, and what a price to pay for serving one's country.

  5. You can't engage in brutality, whatever the reason, and not be changed and scarred by it.

    (And way to go on the garage.)