I have only ever known one veteran who was on active duty during the time of our acquaintance. Besides a few older relations who fought in the second world war, I have had little interaction with warriors of any stripe.
See, with the exception of those who grew up in Israel where participation in the defense forces is mandatory, my demographic really doesn’t do firearms or battles. By my family, even toy weapons and team sports were forbidden.
For the most part, we are people of words and summits and treaties. By and large, we have considered the major combat hostilities of the past fifty plus years both unnecessary and unwise. Certainly, we do not volunteer for activities where violence and bloodshed are the intended outcome.
In the early 90s, it was the time of the first Gulf War — it’s funny, I don’t even remember the patriotic catchphrase given to this engagement — Operation Something-Something. Anyway, during this period, Harold Knapp was assigned the office next to mine at work.
We didn’t belong to the same department and we weren’t really “work friends”. He was a nice enough guy, but as a computer programmer sports fanatic farm boy from Michigan, there wasn’t much to connect us.
Anyway, as it happened, Harold was in the reserves and his unit was deployed to Kuwait. This was the place on the television where it looked like the whole country was covered by black flames.
Although I favored sanctions and thought the war misguided, every day I worried for Harold. Every day I watched the Generals Powell and Schwarzkopf on the news. When Harold finally returned home, I hugged him with unexpected fierceness and cried with surprising joy and relief.
Of course, my experience in no way compares with those separated by land mines and ocean missiles from those they hold most dear. But still, I think of Harold on days like today, when we are confronted with the horror of wars past and present.
© 2014 Jaclyn Schrier. All rights reserved.