Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Memorial Day Reflection: Ron Kovic’s Memory of War

VietnamWar Memorial, Statues of Vietnam War soldiers
By Angelskiss31,  Flickr 
A majority of young Americans have never served in the Armed Forces. Their understanding of military service and war comes from how the news media reports our wars. Television, movies, and the playing of video war games further distort their view of war. Unlike previous wars, restrictions on publishing certain images of war and inadequate media coverage sanitize war in a way that creates ignorance of the horrors of war, and what face combat veterans when they return home.

Most combat veterans cannot talk about their experiences. Not even to their families or best friends. They will only share their experiences with other veterans. They don’t want to take a risk that people will not understand the adrenalin-driven rushes, exultation, rage, and dreadful fear simultaneously felt during combat. They will not understand how it feels to kill another human being.

But, it’s important for veterans to speak out and share their experiences. Men like Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic encourage veterans to join the anti-war movement. His articles, In the Presence of My Enemy: A Reflection on War and Forgiveness and Reflections on the Vietnam War: The Things a Warrior Knows are must-reads.

Kovic writes, "I know war very well. I know it at night when I am sleeping and nightmares still come or in the morning when I wake up and transfer into my wheelchair to start my day. I am happy to be alive, and recently bought a piano and hope to learn to play it someday. I love to play the high notes; they are gentle and soothing to me, almost like the sound of raindrops on my window when I was a boy. Just to touch the keys from time to time helps me to forget the war. The music of the piano fills the air with healing. The past recedes. And sometimes even the nightmares disappear for a while. The sound of a single note gives hope. Somehow we must begin to find the courage to create a better world even if it is with one note or one step."

When veterans speak out we should all pay attention. For they are the evidence that we have failed at making the United States and our world a better place to live if only we had the courage to take that first step and take a different path other than war.

© Copyright 2015 Horatio Green