Veteran’s Day: asking ourselves what it must have been like to live through…

The same thing happens whenever we attempt, incredulously, to peer into the past, asking ourselves what it must have been like to live through World War Two, the Holocaust, or during Stalin’s purges, the years of the greatest terror, and it seems impossible, inconceivable, to survive even an hour in such a nightmare—but for those who weren’t that day’s direct victims of persecution, there was always more reality, always some kind of weather, they were either hungry or well fed, a dog was barking somewhere, a plane flew overhead, Mother was making pierogi in the kitchen, you had to think about buying winter boots, making the soup … They went for walks in the park, they forgot for a moment. They were in love, happily or otherwise, they read Madame Bovary or some other nineteenth-century novel, the radio played a Schubert sonata. Anyone who spent his or her childhood in Stalin’s Poland will remember the scent of the first spring pussy willows and the stammering priest who taught catechism in a cramped parish hall smelling of floor polish better than the gigantic portraits of leaders floating awkwardly, flapping over the May Day Parade. Even the fear that paralyzed so many in its time evaporates as the years pass, becomes difficult to imagine. Especially fear, fear, which is like a migraine—it disappears and leaves no trace. Although it may leave scars upon the soul.


Notes:

  • Post Inspiration: In honor of all who served.
  • Photo: Daily Mail – “My hero big brother: Heart-wrenching moment a soldier’s grieving sister collapses in front of his grave at Arlington Cemetery”
  • Related Posts: Adam Zagajewski

Comments

  1. Waouh !
    Quelle Image.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. tears.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My mom was a Holocaust survivor; my eldest son served in Baghdad. There are no words that can adequately describe what she endured and what he saw. That is the shading to the days, the smell of flowers more pungent – and somehow more heartbreaking.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Pain has no measure. My husband was one of many…a nineteen-sixties draftee into the Vietnam war. No one asked when defoliating the DMZ zone with Agent Orange if there were troops stationed on the zone-line…guarding and watching. No one asked. He was one. One of many.

    Two years prior to his demise he slowly deteriorated. Mentally. Physically. My husband of almost twenty years, and father of our two children died before his forty-second birthday. After breakfast and before lunch. Pain still has no measure.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. I want to cry, seeing this photo. Alas, I can’t…..huge lump in my throat. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Very powerful word and image.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. We will remember them …

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I read your offering last evening, I had just put a piece of Greene and Blacks Milk Chocolate with Sea Salt in my mouth when I read the word, Poland…the chocolate was made in Poland (as I had determined before I made the purchase, yesterday) and Adam Aagajewski masterful ability to string words together took me to a time when the reality of life for so many was unbearable…my soul weeps for those in this world who have endured first hand the horrors of living or soldiering in a war zone…and of the young GI soldiers in a fox hole eating their rations which included a Hershey’s Chocolate Bar, bringing them memories of home, so distant…at other times the chocolate bars where handed, gifted to the children in the cities and countrysides of Italy, Poland, England, Germany and other countries and once again the GI’s were giving of themselves,,,and every-time I see a person wearing a person wearing a hat or a tee shirt or they are getting out a car that has a military insignia I thank them for what they have selflessly done for their fellow man…I thank my family members who have served our great country from its onset…one of my favorite movies (I always cry watching this) “The Search” http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/537701/Search-The-Movie-Clip-An-Auschwitz-Kid.html filmed in post-war torn Germany, an American solider helps a mute refugee child from Aulschwitz ( his native home was Czechoslovakia ) to find his Mother after the war, the boy had taken the name of a Jewish child….I think it would be good for all teens today to watch to understand how other children have lived and survived…empathy building. ” Especially fear, fear, which is like a migraine—it disappears and leaves no trace. Although it may leave scars upon the soul. ” Adam Aagajewski /// revisiting pain is never easy…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Christie. Solemnly read your comment. I’m off to check out The Search.

      Like

    • Christie that is a beautiful movie and I agree, we need to educate our children about the horrors of war, the sacrifice of soldiers and the dangers of complacency in the face of evil. I’m concerned with the young men and women in this country who don’t seem to understand history and facism and are now taking to the streets wearing swatiskas and carrying civil war flags as if war is some glorious experience that they would like to relive. But I see that Europe has it’s own Nazi youth problems now too, and the adults who lived through it must be mortified. I worry we will see history repeat itself because we have done a poor job of teaching it in a comprehensive way.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Last month I was standing at my car at the smallest Safeway in town an older women was passing me with her cart and I said the worker will take that but she went on to put it away which was further for her…we started to chat, the older and physically spry woman had an English accent…we started talking of apples, the conversation progressed and she said she was so out of sorts since she lost her husband of over 40 years (in July) she shared with me about him and their joyful life and the places they’d lived, they never had children…she said how she is so lost in the day to day (so sad) and I asked how long she lived in England and if she’d been a child during the war, she said she was a teen attending a girls school and lived with her mom and aunt, in a small city surrounded by rural areas (plentiful farms) and a river so thus the day to day impact wasn’t too terrible though they had the rationing and they in her hamlet didn’t get bombed, thankfully. She knew they were so fortunate…I assume that her area was devoid of the men folk…other than then doctor, the clergy the farmers, the elderly, etc…The poor children in London,,,the under-nourishment of all the people in Europe…we have know a person who was in a concentration camp, and a older lady who lived in Austria, I said oh, I hope you weren’t there during the war she turned white and said yes and that she would never talk of that time…I just think of the fortitude of people, millions of people yester-years and today and how they push forward…I know that by deep or causal conversation with friends or with strangers I learn much by lending an ear or starting a conversation…soul touching, and I’ve always been re-payed with a smile when I’ve told a stranger that their joyful face, makes me smile…

    Liked by 1 person

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