Memorial Day Weekend -- the weekend during which people remember and honor those who sacrificed in war -- is now a thing of the past. I will take down the flag today and the TV may be less full of war movies.
But yesterday, there was one war movie after another on several TV channels. Some were better than others, some more grisly than others, some more flag-waving patriotic than others, some filled with more cardboard characters than others.
It made me wonder: Does any veteran, anyone who has actually gone in harm's way, watch this shit? I watched some, but I have never been shot at, never been bombed, never lost a near and dear friend, never been scared out of my wits in inexplicable circumstances, never been soul-seared beyond sorrow, never gone numb by necessity to the whatever humanity I possessed, never begged within for something -- anything -- that would get me out of here, never been forced to look within and be appalled, never....
Do veterans watch this shit?
I can imagine longing to have memory serve the truth, but after enough frustration, enough half-baked, technicolor stories ... why try? Why lie? To share the memories that count is impossible. And the same can probably be said for any memory, though of course it may not be socially de rigueur to say so.
Do veterans -- the people with experience -- relive or find relief in the silver screen or the 500-page novel or the television with its ads?
I once sat across a grey, Formica-topped kitchen table from a vet and asked him questions in my role as a reporter. At first, the questions were easy -- name, birth, brothers, sisters, education, etc. But when the questions took him back to his time in Vietnam, it got harder and harder and finally ... he broke down and cried the tears of a man who remembered all too well.
And I, the reporter and movie-goer and TV-watcher and American voter ... was profoundly ashamed.