I actually wrote this a couple of years ago, it was on an old blog of mine that came down. I just wanted it to have a place. -Tim
It’s the Friday before Veterans Day and I’m here sitting in my living room trying to gather my thoughts about it. I have held the title of veteran since 2004. I have built a big part of my identity around it even. But today, my daughter who is six came home with the assignment. She needs to get a picture of a family member who is a veteran and a little history for veterans day. My daughter doesn’t know that part of my life existed. I’m not sure she even knows exactly what a war is. She understands what fighting is, but full blown war, no. She sees the KIA bracelet I wear and asks about the names. All I say is ‘they were my friends.’
She needs to know about my brothers now. I will tell her how we care for each other. The bond we have. The fact that we may not see or hear from each other for years and still drop everything when one of us is in need.
I am going to spend the next day or two explaining in the softest way possible a little bit of dads history. How we formed those bonds together. I will explain that 10 years of my adult life I was a soldier. I went to war twice, and participated in one of the ugliest things any human being could.
I imagine I will get the why question. And I’ll say my country called and explain duty. She will understand, right? Then their are the things I won’t share, the dark stuff, how scared I was, what I felt when I saw my friends fall. How it felt when I fell. The fact that I relive certain moments in my head over and over to this day.
Do I tell her I cry?
Even weirder, do I tell her I miss it? That I wish I was still doing the work. Not war itself, but the stuff I did during the rest of those 10 years. How I wish the bonds I built in the military world could be built in the civilian world. How I wish everyone else loved one another. Not in the hippie sense, but in the “you need me? I will be there” sense. How I miss being able to count on people.
I hope someday not only her, but all four of my children will understand me some day.