Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Veterans fudging the truth

Yesterday got me thinking about some of the members of my family who served in our armed forces.  In my dad's family there were 6 boys and 2 girls.  The 4 oldest boys served as soldiers and the older sister served as a nurse in WWII.  My dad was too young to go as was his younger brother and sister.  I didn't ever really know much about their service--just that one brother died in the war and that one died not long after the war.  I only heard about my aunt's service a few years ago after she died.

No one ever would talk about those who were gone.  There was no talk about any military service either.  Now, my daddy's family was a tight lipped crew, so when my Uncle Steve started talking about how he was injured during The War and showed us the scar in his side where he'd been shot, us kids sat there enthralled with the story.  He told a long and involved story about coming in on the boats to the beaches of Normandy and being shot and left on the beach.  I was amazed at the time--as a kid, but when I saw "Saving Private Ryan," the horror of what he went through had me in a daze for quite a while.  It personalized the whole event for me.

Well, in recent years Daddy has decided that it is time to share at least some of the details of what happened with his brothers and sister during the war and other details of his life, since he is the last surviving child from his family.  He'd rather tell the stories than have them be lost.  Last year my parents and I were talking about the events of WWII and how my uncles died and I started talking about how I vividly remembered Uncle Steve telling us about how he was injured on the beaches at Normandy.  Mama and Daddy just looked at me like I was nuts and started laughing.  Daddy said that Steve wasn't even there when the boats were coming in on the beach.  He said that he parachuted in a couple of days after the beach was already secured.  He had indeed been shot later, but not then.  He'd also been injured so severely another time that he had to have a metal plate put in his head and spent about 6 months in England recovering before returning to the war. 

I was completely floored.  All my life I had believed in a big fat lie about how my uncle was injured.  I think though that it was a bit of self preservation on his part.  I'm sure we had been begging him to tell us a story about when he had been in the war and he just made something up to shut us up.  He didn't want to tell us the stories that were so close to his heart.  The truth was too hard to relive.  To me that makes his ordeal even more harrowing than if he'd been able to tell us the truth. 


spinregina said...

l-ove this. -kristen.

lotusgirl said...


Sandra Evertson said...

Great post!

Rebecca Ramsey said...

I bet you're right.
My brother in law never talks about his time in the first gulf war because it's just too horrible to talk about. It must be hard to have a part of your life that you just find too painful to share.