Tuesday, March 28, 2017

the past is a foreign country

My friend in Arizona showed me this picture of her father. Here he is at a cemetery in Normandy putting a wreath on his brother's grave who'd landed there on DDay. He came to the cemetery after serving in the Battle of the Bulge to say goodbye to his brother and bring this photo back to their mother.
Here's her father with his buddies from the battle of the Bulge somewhere in Belgium. My friend said her father never talked about the past. Or the war.
Cara - on deadline on Tuesday


  1. One of my uncles was in the Battle of the Bulge, and he never talked about his war experiences either. He never smoked before that, started during the Battle, and smoked the rest of his life.

    "When will we ever learn, when will we EVER learn?"

  2. Cara, what a poignant post. My father was a combat Marine in the worst battles of the Pacific. He spoke only at the end of his life and only to me and David. A few horrid stories. He said, "I spent my whole life trying to forget, and I never could." Retelling is reliving. How could they bring themselves to do that?

  3. My uncle Benny, who was orphaned as a child, was drafted before Pearl Harbor, fought in Europe the entire war, was captured in the Battle of the Bulge (as a Jew), survived, and returned home intact, keeping in touch with his war buddies all his life. He was the light of every child's life in the family. Told us stories of his time in the Army...including photos of him exhausted and asleep that made US magazines... and never lost his great spirit. He was truly a rare soul.

  4. My gran lost all her brothers in the first world war, either in action (4) or by suicide (2) after they had come home. She said that she didn't blame them, not after what they had seen and lived through. Only yesterday, we had an enquiry at work from a 70 year old mum, about her 50 year old son who has PTSD after his stint in the Iraq conflict. The man has lost his career, his family, his ...sanity? His mum is holding on to - as she put it - the man he used to be.
    Sad beyond belief.

  5. My mother lost her first husband - he was shot down over Sicily, and died on an American aircraft carrier. My father was 'up North' in North Africa and Italy for five years. I know virtually nothing about what he did. He rrely mentioned the war. However once a month for years and years he would go to a gathering of others in his rigiment who'd also been fighting.