SERVING OUR VETERANS: Remembering VJ day
This past August 15th marked the 73rd anniversary of Victory in Japan Day which basically ended the U.S. involvement in WWII. It is a great tribute to the American civilian and military population that we could unite and successfully win such a war of this magnitude on two fronts, against both Germany and Japan. Obviously, our victory in WWII came at a great cost of human life. Our country lost over 400,000 military personnel and over 12,000 civilians. These numbers pale compared to what Japan lost, 2,300,000 military and up to 800,000 civilians. Battle names and locations of our war against Japan will always be etched in our memory, like Midway, Bataan, Tarasawa, Iwo Jima, Nagasaki, Hiroshima, to name just a few.
As I was thinking about this loss of life numbers, I started thinking about those who witnessed these horrors and atrocities of war yet survived. It is no wonder that so many of them, both soldiers and civilians, suffered for the remainder of lives from such serious issues as PTSD, depression, drug and alcohol addictions and many other mental and emotional conditions. This list does not include just those connected to WWII, but all wars.
As I continued to think about this, I started to think about veterans I know who lived through and survived some pretty horrible events during their war time service. Yet most of them seemed to be living normal lives unaffected by what they had experienced. Was this really the case?
Sometimes I feel I think about things like this too much. In this case, I came to the conclusion that these veterans, seemingly unaffected by war, actually did carry a wound with them. That would be sorrow and sadness for what they had seen and lost. Issues like PTSD, addiction and depression are issues of the mind, but sorrow and sadness remain in one’s heart. I am sure we can all relate to this as we all have experienced the loss of friends, family and loved ones. Fortunately the majority of us have not had to suffer to the magnitude of those who lived in or near the battle front of war.
So, to those war veterans who seem to be living normal lives, it is my hope that you have since experienced enough good things in your life to replace much of this sorrow and sadness that wounded your heart.
Let us always have compassion and empathy for all those who have suffered because of war, whether their wounds are visible or invisible.
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