Archives for posts with tag: war

Anything about World War I catches my eye. My long time interest in The Great War began with the movie In Love and War, starting Chris O’Donnell and Sandra Bullock. It was about Ernest Hemmingway’s experiences during the war and showcased the era in a captivating way.

When I followed the link to this article on Twitter, it lead to amazing colorized photographs of scenes of wartime Europe. Since it occurred at a time when photography was still finding its feet, the war had been displayed for us historically in black and white. It’s how we’ve been used to seeing it, which is why the colorized images are so startling now.   

In the grand scheme of this bigger-than-life collective life, the World War I era was not really a great long time ago. Its importance as the first mechanized war, with tank warfare and aerial dogfights marked a new chapter in several areas…warfare, technology, man on man inflicted suffering, yet it seems anything but modern, when viewed exclusively in black and white or sepia tones. Our 21st century gaze peruses the colorized versions with a more visceral reaction that helps merge the time not far from the turn of the 20th century with our current age of technological awe.

Of course the fact that images are in color neither lessens or makes more important the content. It does draw our attention in a new way, allowing us to see history with fresh eyes and perception. It makes it more real somehow, more our war, as well as the long, hard endured experience of generations lost.
In Love and War Trailer

I’ve spoken with a number of veterans over the years. They span generations, wars, and now that the future is here…centuries. It is always a privilege and an honor.

There are different types of war veterans. Some speak of their experiences as casually as the rest of us might discuss a book we became immersed in as we read it.
They lived it, it is now a part of their lives, memories flowing across the landscape of their minds like a familiar river.

Others discuss the wars they lived rarely and with some reluctance. Their experience was filled with rage and compassion, fear and heroics, honor and courage and questions for which they will never find answers…even across a lifetime of pondering. They speak of it when they do because they want others to know their living history, to pass it on, and perhaps be a small part of the reason war may never come again.

Another group of veterans do not speak of what they went through. Ever. They acknowledge that they fought in battles. They may say where and when. They may not. Some were prisoners of war, and underwent horrors they find unspeakable. Others simply saw so much death and carnage that they have no desire to relive it through articulating what it was like.  Someone who sees their friends killed in front of them, perhaps in situations they missed themselves by minutes called luck or fate or faith, need to keep that knowledge to themselves. I respect that.

The ones I respect most of all spent at least one moment locked in life or death combat, close enough to look into the face of the enemy and for a fleeting moment recognize someone’s husband, father, child. Because of their training, their courage, their desire to protect their comrades, their families back home, and that very homeland itself they take that life. One or many. They operate out of instinct and patriotism and honor and courage and love…and they live with the knowledge of the urgent necessity that forced them to go against their own natures to do the unthinkable.

Some veterans who carry that experience with them for decades do not speak of it. It speaks for them through service records, citations of heroism, and the words of awed comrades. For some their names become legend, while their lives are spent in mostly silent contemplation. They receive their honors and titles and medals with a dignity that shines from their inward turned gazes. Some may tell a trusted cherished few, while others live a life of silent, persistent  memory, and I hope pride in what they did for the rest of us.

It’s the silent soldiers I think of most deeply on Veterans Day and many others. I hope they find solace in knowing how much we honor them and love them, as we remember their service and their sacrifice.