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May 31, 2010

I used to love watching war movies.  I think there were two reasons why I liked them so much.  First, it was a fascination for something so foreign to my world of stoplights, quiet nights, and ice cream trucks.  I glorified the guns and bombs and dreamed about rescuing POW’s.  I could live war out in my head without the physical pain or emotional scars.  No guts but all the glory.

Secondly, I was drawn to war because I lived with the prospect of one day being drafted as a young man.  My Dad fought in Vietnam so the potential for being drafted seemed very real to me, something bound to happen the day I turned 18.

I do this with a lot of things really.  I have a strong curiosity for the things I fear in life, I am drawn closer to sharks, bears, war, plane crashes, etc.  My first stop at the zoo is the Lion’s den.  I am terrified of sharks but I find myself swimming in the ocean.  I am scared of bears but will be vacationing in bear country this summer.  I cringe at the idea of war so I pop in another DVD that makes me interact with it all.  I want to know more about what I fear and that led to me being captivated by war (or the idea of war) for so long as a child.

But as I have grown a little older the intrigue of it all has changed.  I no longer have to really worry about being drafted and the glory of war has faded for me.  The reality of my Dad’s stories have set in for me, both as a son and as a therapist.  I understand why he hasn’t wanted to hold a gun ever since he returned from Vietnam.  I understand why he sleeps so lightly or why he hates not knowing who is behind him…he was involved in a war where millions lost their lives and he was barely out of his teens.

4400 US soldiers have died in Iraq and 1000 US souls have died fighting in Afghanistan.  According to a British based research group, approximately 100,000 Iraqis have died since the invasion of 2003.  So many have died while we go about our reasonably safe lives.

Many who survive war end up mangled emotionally and psychologically.  PTSD is through the roof and according to a February report from CNN, five US soldiers try to commit suicide every day.

This isn’t supposed to be a political post, I’m not going to give any personal opinions.  If anything I want folks to think about the people who have fought in war, remember the lives they gave up and the reasons why they did so.  This Memorial Day we need to think, thank, and pray for those who experienced the torment of war.  Whether you agree or disagree with the war, today is a time when we can remember the sacrifices made and deal with the confusion that war presents us.  I urge you to confront those complexities and try to learn from them moving forward.

I may not be as intrigued by war now like I was as a child but my fear of it will stay with me forever, as it should.

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