Friday, April 13, 2012

Glad to be out huh?

"What not to say to the guy who just got back."
That was the headline of one of my Dad's articles that he wrote for his local paper.
I'm thinking that headline and his article should be required reading for some people today.

The article I speak of was written a while back. Actually, it was one of the first articles he wrote after returning home from doing his part in promoting world peace in the South Pacific during WW ll.
The date was November 23rd, 1945.

I read this article and smiled, because I could just tell he was fed up. Fed up with the questions every GI heard upon returning home.
Here is a sampling of what he wrote.

How does it feel to be back in civvies? Glad to be out huh? Did you get over?
He writes that these questions are asked to returning GI's 100 times. He says,

There is only one answer to the first question. "Good!" The variation is "swell!"
Guess your glad to be out huh? That question he must have heard a lot because he writes,
If the person asking the question had been clothed in baggy khaki for 4 or 5 years, had gone weeks or months without mail, and had eaten canned rations for weeks at a time, well, he'd be kinda "glad to be out huh?"

Asking the veteran "Did you get over?" when he has just returned after almost forgetting what the United States looked like is a sure way to gain his lasting enmity.

This one last example from Dad's article and I'll stop plagiarizing, I promise.
He writes about the frequent question, "Did you see action?"
The bloodthirsty set will ask, "Did you see any action over there?" That is, they'll ask after they have learned that you had "been over there." The real veteran will shy away from this question like a fly from fire.. If the veteran is just a half veteran, the person asking the question has doomed himself to at least one half hours roll call of the battles from Normandy to Berlin.

From the healthy doses of sarcasm evident, I would say he was probably just really tired of hearing those same questions over and over every day. I don't think his feelings changed with time, because he was never one to sit down and "talk about the war." My Uncle, who served in Europe and was very close to my Dad said once, "He just never liked to talk about the war."

After I read this article today, my first thought was, "Thank God." Thank God I didn't bombard my son in law upon his return from Afghanistan with a barrage of questions like that. Lets just say I know from my daughter that Jim's time serving in that angry mountainous far away land was not pretty. The last thing he probably wants to do is give me a play by play of his experiences. As much as I wanted to ask, I didn't. Maybe my Dad was looking down on me and saying, "Don't even think about it."

Maybe at the cookout for my not even thought of grandchild's High School graduation, we'll talk. But now isn't the time.


I was surprised with this old article of my Dad's from a Facebook friend who is very active on a FB page about the town I grew up in. Many people have joined and are contributing with old pictures and stories. John Coleman found a few articles of my Dad's and sent them to me. I have never seen the one I mentioned above, before. Thanks John.


SueAnn Lommler said...

How wonderful to have received the articles!!
My dad never talked about his war stories either. And we never asked. I guess, according to your dad, we were right in that department!!

Karen said...

What a wonderful gift, that article all these years later.

My cousin served in dessert storm. The family gathered round him when he returned and we asked some of those questions. He simply said.... quietly.... I've seen pieces of people lying by the sides of the roads.. I don't want to talk about it.

We promptly stopped the questions.

bon bon said...

sounds like a thoughtful man, your dad. wonderful to find this small puzzle piece reconnecting you to him.

Donna said...

Glad your SIL is home safely.
If he's like my son after his deployment, his stories will emerge in time and he'll appreciate a willing ear to share the burden.
Hugs,and an offer to hear whatever he has to say, whenever he needs to say it, will be more than sufficient.

momto8 said...

guess the best thing to say is, "Thank you for your service."

Jerral Miles said...

You are fortunate to have words/sentences/paragraphs written by your dad. I'll bet when you read them now, you can hear him saying the words. What a gift!

Marilyn said...

How nice to have a friend find this article and share it with you. I can just imagine vets wouldn't want to remember the atrocities.

Formerly known as Frau said...

Sometimes I wonder if they want to talk and are waiting to be asked....mostly I want to say is thank you for your service....and I'm glad you are home.