"What was it like, Dad?"
from "Until Tomorrow, One Man's Story", Author Hurland Leo Clark, Hq. Co, 2nd Bat, 114th Reg
"Most veterans I have talked to have been asked, as I have, "What was it like in the war, Dad?" The asking person would then seem put out because they didn't get the kind of answer they expected.
How can you explain to someone who has never experienced the feeling of death, in one form or another, as a constant companion? How can you tell of the peculiar sounds of bullets snapping and cracking as they spin by, each one a missile of death?
Fear is necessary, for it releases the adrenaline to give the added push or strength to protect ourselves. Fear will make a brave man cry or a coward brave. Some of our soldiers would never fire their rifles, or if they did, it was with their eyes shut, the built in "Thou shalt not kilt" too strong to overcome. Some would pray wanting peace. Not realizing that both sides must want peace. One side can not make peace, it can only surrender. When that happens, the other side takes over, subjugating the surrendering side.
How can you tell of the look in the eyes of someone that has just received a mortal blow and knows it? Mirrored in those eyes is the knowledge of the end fast approaching and the fact that they know they will not do the things they had planned or finish that which they have started, never to see the loved ones again or look at the blue sky or a green tree.What do you say to someone who has just received a bullet meant for you? In death, the enemy has the same odor as the friendly dead. An odor never to be forgotten once experienced. No other odor in the world is like it. The smell of burning human flesh is even worse. Yet they ask "What was it like in the war?" Can I tell of the stench of the battlefield and make someone see it or smell it?
For us, the combat veterans, our subconscious minds help block some of these feelings so that we may continue to function. It has been called unfeeling or casual, this attitude we develop, but it is vital to survive. It is the people asking the questions who are unfeeling. We are trying to forget."