Down the street from me is a former WW-II Coast Guard type. He keeps telling me he is older than the seas he sailed. I usually stop and talk to him for a few minutes when I’m walking my dog in the evening. But, last night, he told me, “Nobody wants to listen.”
At first I thought he was making a comment about something from today’s news. But that wasn’t it. He was talking about his experiences during the war. He said there was nobody around any more that he could trade war stories with. None of his friends had served in any of the armed forces.
After I continued my walk I thought about what he had said. He was right. Unless you were there, nobody wants to hear about “that” time. I truly believe people care that you served. It’s just they don’t want to hear about it. Don’t bring it up.
As I get older and we socialize with an older generation, I also find very few served in the military. And those few that did, most never heard a shot fired in anger. So, why can’t I talk about my experiences like the guys talk about their younger adult civilian experiences? Or, how wives took on the full responsibilities of running a family while their husbands were overseas.
I think the reason most don’t want to hear about it simply is they’re afraid you’ll talk about someone getting killed. You see talking about being in combat makes most civilians feel closer to the taking of a life and the death of a human being. Almost as if they feel you’re pointing a finger at them and asking why they weren’t there.
I’ve never been accused of making life choices for others unless it was my immediate family. Then it dealt mainly with changes of duty stations. Therefore, I don’t put people down just because they never served. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t wonder how patriotic a man can be that never served one day in the defense of our nation.
That doesn’t mean I haven’t heard a lot of excuses why they didn’t. Seems every time we meet new people at a cocktail party and they find out I was a Marine, out come the excuses. Thankfully, our founding Fathers didn’t feel that way.