Raw and real, from the pages of my book, Innocence Derailed:

“But Dad, there are things I’m ashamed to tell you about.”

He smiled with compassion and patted her hand. “Some people just have to carry those memories inside of them, Katie. I’ve traveled some too, served as a communications expert stringing telegraph lines in the South Pacific. That was back during the Second World War.”

“Wow, the South Pacific is supposed to be a beautiful part of the world.”

“The island we were on was a fine-looking place, all right, but I had a crew of men to look after. We supplied the communication system for the front-line squadrons.”

“Is that where your welding helmet came from, the one with the ferocious face painted on it?”

“Yeah.” He sported a small grin and looked off into the distance.

“What island were you stationed on?”

“We were in the New Hebrides. Plenty of exotic vegetation to hide in, and fierce tribes of headhunters way up in the hills.”

“That’s primitive, all right. It must have been exciting, though.”

“At first, it was, but then I came down with malaria. They sent me home to the States to recover. After quite a few weeks, I got better but then received new orders to return to the front again.”

Kate winced. “Oh, no.”

“By that time, the fighting was pretty intense. My crew and I… well, they caught us between the front lines and the base camp.” He stopped talking and tilted his beer up to drain it.

“It must have been hard being sent back into the war zone.”

“I want to show you something.” Her father went to his bedroom and brought out a canvas bag. It was stuffed full of seashells and coins he had kept. She’d never seen shells like these, and the details on the coins were fascinating. “But in the war, did you have to kill anybody?” she asked.

His reminiscing stopped. He put his collection back into the leather bag. “We’ve talked long enough, Katie,” he said.

She couldn’t let the subject drop. “If you were my age and drafted today, would you go?”

“A bunch of damn pot-lickers, those war generals. All they do is plan maneuvers on blackboards in their safe little underground bunkers.”

Kate sensed what her father didn’t share, things in his service for his country he’d never been able to talk about. And maybe he needed to tell somebody.

“How bad was it over there, Dad?” she whispered and touched his arm.

Her father’s whole countenance hardened. His eyes bore into hers in anguish, working his jaw to spit out the words. “I lost them all, my whole damn crew.” His face crumbled, and tears squinted up his eyes. Hunched over the table, he jerked back and forth with a loss of control.

Kate sat still. She didn’t know what to say. Images of horror fluttered across her mind, a telepathic transfer in vivid, harsh detail. Her father struggled to lock his emotions away again. After a minute, Kate stood up to get two more beers and handed him one. Now she understood why he drank.

Excerpt from INNOCENCE DERAILED, Chapter 25 Homecoming Blues, page 139

 Veteran Day Photo by Daniel Lloyd Blunk-Fernández on Unsplash

No, on each Veteran’s Day, I think of my father and the depth of emotion in the scars all those men carried. At least those who came home…

Is WAR ever justified? 
Aren't we evolved enough to sit down and negotiate with our perceived enemies???