I have spent a great deal of time talking with and interviewing Vets. Spending hours with my father and uncles talking about their experiences during WWII (and yes many Vets seem to be willing to talk more as they age), and with many of my pals who are Vietnam Vets along with Vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. This is time that I treasure deeply. You learn so much by politely asking Veterans questions about their experiences.
In Jan. and Feb. of 2003 just before the invasion I was trying to gather the opinions of older Vets about what looked like the upcoming invasion of Iraq. I spent a great deal of time in small towns in southeastern Ohio collecting these stories. In the town of Chauncey Ohio (southeastern) I was in a VFW audio taping the insights and opinions of Vets about what the Bush administration was about to do. Most of these Vets were against the invasion but no one in the MSM was asking them what they thought.
As I walked out of the Chauncey Ohio V.F.W. I saw a beautiful elderly gent getting out of a giant and just a bit rusty 1973 Chevy Monte Carlo. He was wearing an old beat up t-shirt, Osh Kosh overalls and a red ball cap covered with Korean War Veteran pins. I introduced myself and he let me know that his name was Virgil Kittle. I asked if he would mind if I asked him a few questions about what looked like an upcoming war. He said "shoot". I asked if he thought this war was necessary? Virgil fell back into the drivers seat of his car, his throat tightened up and his eyes began to fill with tears and those tears began to roll down his wrinkled cheeks. When he got the words out he said with a strong Appalachian accent "it’s wrong to send young boys, it’s wrong to send young people off to a war that you are not sure about. It’s just wrong!" He continued to tear up. So did I. Virgil and I went on talking for a while about what looked like was about to take place in Iraq. Virgil died a few years ago and I will never forget his story.
I continue to talk with many Vets about this war and other wars and I tear up (now) thinking about what I see in their eyes. I can see their eyes. Lots of pain, lots of sadness, lots of remorse (especially the Vietnam, Iraq Vets). These people know the brutal reality of war and that it is not to be taken lightly the way the Bush administration has done.
Today (hell any day) is a good day to talk with your father, uncles, friends who have served and let them know how much you appreciate them and would love to hear their stories if they want to share.