The Veterans in Michael Rock’s Family Have This in Common
When I was growing up, I knew that my father and grandfather were both war veterans.
My dad was on the ground, roaming the jungles in Vietnam at the mind-blowingly young age of 19. I'm embarrassed to think about the irresponsible things I was doing at 19 years old, while my father was making life-or-death, split-second decisions as a sergeant at that same age.
My grandfather was also a veteran and a sergeant. He fought in the Pacific Theater of World War II. His job was to serve as a chauffer of sorts, driving a brigadier general around Guam in a Jeep.
I always try to honor my father and grandfather on Veterans Day by sharing their photos from their wars. As I was looking at their photos today, I realized just how little I ever spoke to them about when they were deployed.
To this day, my dad rarely talks about Vietnam, and when he does it's only ever about things that were comical, never serious. For example, he'll talk about how he was sleeping on the ground one night in Vietnam when he realized he was sleeping on a boa constrictor. He ended up catching the giant snake and eating it. Desperate times call for desperate measures, I guess. My father will also share pictures of the enormous beetles in Vietnam that were bigger than his hands.
My grandfather never talked about the war. I only got bits and pieces from my grandmother, which wasn't much.
I do remember when I'd sleep over at my grandparents' house, I'd sometimes hear my grandfather yell out in his sleep. As a kid, I didn't think much about him having a bad dream, but now I wonder if he might have been dreaming about the war.
If there's one thing my father and grandfather had in common, it's that it seems like they both preferred to put their war memories away and move on with their lives.
It's understandable. After all, isn't that exactly what they fought for?
They fought with the hope that future generations like us would have the privilege of living normal lives without war constantly looming.