So what's the point of this diatribe? Veterans Day. Today. Look back more than six decades ago, to World War 2. A lot of our troops never came home. Sadly, tens of thousands died in Europe and the Pacific. Most of our men came home though. But there's a sadness in that as well. Because so many of them never talked about what happened there, what they saw, how it affected them. And what they carry with them now, more than 60 years later. It’s not easy for them to talk about their experiences, especially to their families. But isn’t it a shame that these men who earned the right to talk have chosen to keep it all in? Tim Russert of “Meet the Press” said they possess a “quiet eloquence.” I like that. Quiet eloquence.
I used to play senior softball with a guy named Charlie. He’s 85 years old now. I told him about a book I had read, called “Flags of Our Fathers.” It’s the story of a young man who learns that his dad was one of the six guys who raised the flag on Iwo Jima in 1945. He found out about it after his dad had passed away. Charlie said, “Gerry, I was on Iwo too.” He surprised me. I knew he was a Marine, but not much else. I asked him if he’d ever told his wife or his kids about what he went through. He said, “They never asked, they didn’t seem interested. Anyway we were just doing a job.” Quiet eloquence. Still, I could feel there were undercurrents in his life he didn’t want to acknowledge.
I wonder how many stories and memories are locked up. How many sons and daughters, and grand children, will never know what Pop or Grandpa went through. Time keeps on moving. The older we get, the faster it moves. I hope there’s time for these men to bring their families into their past. I hope they talk about it. It’s the kind of talk we need.