My dad fought in Africa during WWII. No this is not a history lesson, but rather a look back at one casualty of the war, my dad. No, he didn't lose his life in the war, but a part of him definitely died.
I remember as a child watching my dad asleep on the couch. My mom would run around moving the tables and the lamps from around the couch. It always happened when he was exhausted or not feeling well. There he lay asleep....leading his men in battle. His upper lip twitching. His hand motioning for his men to "get down". Whispering. Cringing when the bombs went off. The noise deafening. I could hear him talking to his best friend, Butts. Whispering. Motioning. My dad lived that war over and over and over again as a very horrible and vivid nightmare for as long as I can remember.
If we noticed it as soon as it started, after moving everything out of the way, my mom would tap him on his foot to wake him from his nightmare. "Rolf, Rolf, wake up." His arms and legs would go flying in every direction, his eyes would dart around until he realized he wasn't in a battle in Africa.
If he was well into his hellish nightmare by the time we noticed, we would just move things away from him, and let him fight his battle.....yet again. He would wake on his own...drained from the horrors of war.
My dad would sometimes cry in his nightmare. The tears streaming down his cheeks. Sobbing. His pain was so real. My dad fought side by side with his best friend and was there when his best friend died in battle.
He didn't talk about the war very often, and we didn't ask him about it. Every May 7th though, my dad would "disappear" for the day. We were never sure where he went or what he did, but he always returned looking spent with eyes red and swollen.
There was a time in the war when he was leading his men and told them to stay where they were. He was going ahead to make sure it was safe to proceed. When he came back, his men were all dead. They had been ambushed. Maybe that was May 7th. I don't know. Whatever happened that day, it pained him greatly.
All of the casualties of war don't die in battle...my dad passed away in 1984.
I'm not telling you this to make you feel bad. My dad had a great life. He had a wife and children and many friends. He loved to cook. He loved animals. He told jokes....man, did he tell jokes! He worked for many years at the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon. He was always there to help someone in need...but he also carried a very heavy burden that made life hard for him sometimes.
Today is Veterans Day. Take this day to honor those that made the ultimate sacrifice, those that bear the scars of war physically and even those whose scars cannot be seen. They have given so much. Honor those who are serving their country now. Honor them all, not just today, but each and every day.
I love you Dad!