Veterans have volumes of war history to tell
Published 12:00 am Monday, November 12, 2001
Monday, November 12, 2001
The Natchez Democrat
I thank God that for many of us our impressions of war come
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from film depictions and written accounts.
For the dozens and dozens of local military veterans, war is
real and part of their life experiences.
Individually their stories are interesting. From the person
who saw heavy action and was captured by the enemy to those who
served far from the battle lines, each tiny vignette tells a small
bit of history.
Collectively, however, stories of the veterans in the Miss-Lou
stitch together decades of history.
From the skies over 1943 Germany to the frigid winters in Korea
to the jungles of Vietnam to the deserts of Iraq, our community
is filled with walking history books.
Although most of these men and women would deny it, all are
And all deserve our thanks.
But more than our thanks, veterans deserve our attention.
Too often we don’t ask questions of these brave people. Too
often we forget to say &uot;thanks&uot; for their service to
protect our country’s freedom.
And too often, we simply don’t listen or show an interest in
learning about their experiences.
Want to know about history? Sure, you can read a book about
it. But only by talking to a Veteran can you truly get a sense
of what war is really like.
History books detail the political struggles that kept U.S.
commanders from running the Vietnam War as they saw fit.
But such books rarely tell the personal side of Vietnam.
Veterans alone can communicate how surreal war is. One second
you’re talking to your buddy next to you. The next second, he’s
Only veterans can describe the strange feelings of loneliness
and the utter joy at seeing the red mail bag drop from the helicopter;
inside, written proof the world back home still existed and the
people there were thinking about you.
It is through the vivid recollection of veterans that a true
understanding of history comes to life.
Sadly, the years are catching up to many veterans – especially
those who served in World War II. Time is doing what the Germans
and the Japanese were unable to do.
Tom Brokaw dubbed the men of who fought during World War II
as our nation’s &uot;greatest generation.&uot;
And even Brokaw’s description fails to adequately give enough
credit and thanks to those men.
Some estimates show that America is losing more than 1,000
World War II veterans each day.
And with the loss of those great men, America loses thousands
of personal, first-hand bits of its history.
Volumes of history have already been lost. It is imperative
that we preserve what we can today before more is gone.
Teachers and civic clubs should invite veterans to gather together
and tell their stories. Can you imagine how enthralled students
would be to hear a veteran’s true war story?
We must not forget the past.
If you know a veteran, ask them if they mind talking about
And, if they are willing, record the conversation. Perhaps
even a fraction of their generation’s greatness will rub off on
our future heroes.
Kevin Cooper is editor of The Democrat. He can be reached
at (601) 445-3541 or by e-mail to email@example.com.