My grand uncles, Wallington and Earl, were in their teens and riding in the back seat when they were in a car accident involving a logging truck near Iron Mountain, MI, in 1943. Before their eyes, their parents were thrown through the windshield and decapitated by the falling glass. They sat there frozen in horror for hours before the wreck was discovered.
The boys were brought home and their married elder sister (my grandmother) moved back in there with her husband Millard and baby Keith in order to finish raising them in familiar territory. Millard was the only one who could make them smile and even laugh in those dark days with his clownish antics, often back flipping away from them in the middle of a conversation or teaching them to do daredevil tricks on their bikes. But Wallington and Earl were deeply disturbed by what they’d seen and both seemed to harbor a death wish… drinking too much, starting brawls, driving recklessly and at high speed, being generally reckless in everything they did.
Pearl Harbor and the resulting joining in of the U.S. in WWII was the answer to that dark wish. Both joined as soon as they were old enough: Wallington to the European theater; Earl to the Asian theater.
Wallington was captured with team mates by Nazis at the Battle of the Bulge after they’d blown up a bridge and ended up stuck on the wrong side. He has never talked about what happened to him in the German POW camp. I only know that he and his team escaped together after months in captivity but were in very bad shape and more than a little crazy by the time they got back to their own troops. None of them were able even to talk about how they’d done it.
Earl was downed in his plane in the middle of a rice paddy. A kind elderly Japanese couple pulled him from the burning wreckage and hid him in their basement for months while he healed. When the Japanese soldiers came to investigate the wreckage, they lied and told them the pilot had died in the flames. Later, they repatriated him with American troops at much risk to themselves.
Both brothers met their older brother George (who was a Navy chaplain) while rehabilitating in Hawaii and it was a very joyous reunion, especially since the whole family had thought Wallington and Earl were dead up until then and been in mourning.
That’s all I know about their war histories, despite the fact that my younger grand uncles were at many a family get-together while I was growing up. I only knew them for singing and playing the accordion and being generally jolly but a little crazy. Their eyes would tear up and their faces suddenly go very still whenever the war was even mentioned… and one of the brothers (not sure which) was reputed to have dealt with a rat problem in his house once by shooting them through the walls with his pistol. Oh yes, and the surviving rats DID leave, en masse. I don’t blame them.
My father-in-law was in the war too, at Guadal Cannal, and he too would tear up every time the war was mentioned and never talked about it.
Same for many vets I’ve known of many wars since then. One guy I knew in college had gone to Canada to avoid a draft once upon a time and so was not a war veteran at all in this lifetime, but his energy signature said otherwise. I knew it even before he told me about his dreams, that he’d died in some Asian war in his life just past (Vietnam I think) and the American Civil war as well. The dreams he told me about, nightmares, really confirmed it. He was living this life determined not to be involved in any war ever again.
War isn’t natural… not for most people. Some people who have never even gone hunting and killed an animal before, are being suddenly asked to kill fellow humans. In normal society, only psychos commit senseless mass murder and them we lock away or execute because they are a danger to society. In war, everyone is pressured into killing fellow human beings whether they like it or not.
Our “brave” leaders commit thousand of our young people to killing and being killed. They give them grand causes to fight for. The only one I can get behind is defending our people on our shores. Everything else is Bull Sh*t. No matter how good a cause it may sound like, it really isn’t. At the end of the day, good people, innocents will die and the minds of survivors on both ends of the weapon will be shattered by what they’d seen and experienced.
War isn’t natural to the normal human mind. It’s psychotic behavior. If we have to compartmentalize something to make a space for something that ugly in our minds, there’s something wrong with that. It should give us pause. We should hold suspect anyone, god or man, who commands us to make war under any circumstance short of direct national/personal defense. This should never involve military entanglement in other countries’ domestic affairs.
Don’t send our people to fight for damn oil rights. Don’t send them on a hidden political agenda or to fuel war economy. Don’t send them to “fight for god.” How stupid an idea is that? Religious politics have always been Machiavellian. Don’t even try to tell them that fighting overseas is somehow defending their home. It’s not. Don’t send them as World Police. Countries have their own destinies to work through just as individual souls do.
War is too slippery a slope and way too hard to recover from. Sometimes it takes many lifetimes. It’s not sane.