Tomorrow is a holiday in America, Memorial Day. It’s a three-day weekend for lots of people, a day when all they do is sleep in and have picnics and take advantage of big sales. But it’s more than that; it’s a day to honor our country’s fallen soldiers.
I never served, but many of my family members have: great-grandfather was infantry in WWI, grandfather was infantry in WWII, uncle in the Air Force in Vietnam, a couple more infantry, and numerous cousins in the Marines, as well as many friends who’ve served.
Earlier this year, a classmate’s older brother, a 34-year-old divorced former Marine, died unexpectedly in his home; most likely suicide. My grandfather killed himself due, in part, to depression related to combat. Both men left behind small children.
Today’s snippet comes from my short story “The Futility of Loving a Soldier,” published in Eunoia Review last fall. It’ll also be in the short story collection of the same name I plan to release later this week. Read my snippet, then go hug and thank a veteran. They need it and they deserve it.
You were typical military, born to live in tents halfway around the world, born to shoot guns at the bad guys. Once you went over, once you tasted it, it was always with you. You tried to ignore it, tried to push it down and live a normal life, but it wasn’t working for you. I could see the quiet haunting despair in your eyes, after an evening drinking with your army buddies. After watching a war movie on TV. After hearing a car backfire, after being in a crowded open area.
You wanted to go back; you needed to go back.
I knew better than to stop you.
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