Friday, May 26, 2017

Ron Kovic’s Memory of War

A majority of 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, video war games . . .  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 combat veterans face 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 know 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 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 pay attention. For they are 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 a different path other than war.

Remember this Memorial Day that the greatest casualty of war has been our future.

Copyright © Horatio Green 2017