Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
Dear Veteran, We don't know one another but, like you, I'm an American who loves this land and what we stand for. Please let me thank you for all that you've done to protect our country. To do that, you had to leave your home, your loved ones, your life ... and probably not when it was convenient. But you did it anyway. Those are sacrifices I deeply respect and appreciate. You have a story to tell, one that we all need to hear. We'd like to know about your struggles and your triumphs as a service man or woman, the good times and the bad, what a typical day was like for you, what you saw and heard, what you thought and didn't want to think, what those letters from home meant to you, and how you were anxious to do your job well from wherever you were stationed so that you could come back home and pick up your life. By telling about your experiences, that act of sharing could actually be a release for you. You could also help your family understand that portion of your life.
When we understand one another, we tend to grow stronger bonds with those we love. And, by sharing your story, you'll be recording that part of history you took part in. Did you watch the series, "The War?" It detailed the lives of servicemen who fought in World War II. Maybe you even bought or borrowed the book on which the mini-series was based. Those deeply moving stories are now a part of the history of our involvement in that war. Whether or not you think your participation was a 'big deal,' let me just say that it was, because you were there and did your part. My brother Pat was much older than me. He served in the Navy at the tail end of WWII. By the time I was old enough to ask questions about what his life had been like, he'd sealed it off from the rest of us. Never did he speak of it to our mother, my other brother, my sister. Oh, maybe he and our cousins who were in the Navy with him talked about it when they got together; just not the rest of us. I've always thought that, had I known about what he went through, I would have understood him better, and we would have had a closer relationship. I truly believe that, had he unsealed that part of him, a giant weight would have fallen off his shoulders. Along with the hundreds of others from our Illinois hometown who served, Pat's name fills a tile that sits inside a prominent downtown memorial. He penned, or told, no stories of those few years he served. He's gone now. Now it's too late, and we'll never know any of it. What a pity. I wonder ... would it be asking too much for you to share your personal story? Respectfully, Natalie Miller Rotunda