October 14, 2010

The Seventeenth Day


(Above: Me hugging my brother the day he came home from Afghanistan)

"And in the end, of course, a true war story is never about war.
It's about sunlight. It's about the special way that dawn spreads out on a river when you know 
you must cross the river and march into the mountains and do things you are afraid to do. 
It's about love and memory. It's about sorrow. 
It's about sisters who never write back and people who never listen." 

Day 17 → A book you’ve read that changed your views on something.



I'm picking this book because it's freshly read, although it is definitely in my top 5 all time favorites: The Things They Carried, by Tim O'Brien. A lot of people read this book in high school, so I'm a bit late on it. It blew me away to say the least. He is an amazing, eloquent, thought-provoking author.

It's a story (although most of his books are closer to memoirs than fiction), about a group of soldiers in Vietnam. I wouldn't say it so much changed my views on anything as it did expand them and verify my beliefs about wars in general. It's awesome in the way it details the different soldiers' experiences- how they live through the same things, but handle them different ways because of their various backgrounds. You get to know them. You cry for them and mourn for them. It was really powerful.

Something I've talked about before in real life, but not on this blog, is that a job doesn't make you a good person. I'm a little scared to bring this up, to be honest, but this is my opinion: Soldiers, just like firefighters, policemen, etc., are worthy of our gratitude for what they've done- even if they're not necessarily 'brave', they end up in situations that most of us won't have to ever deal with, and whether they know it or not, they sacrifice a little sanity and peace of mind when they return home. Obviously, they miss out on months or years of time with their family, a 'normal' life with a normal job and a nice weekend. However- it doesn't make them good people per-se. Having been around firefighters (my dad is one), as well as the other guys in my brother's and my husband's National Guard unit, I can safely say that they are not all desirable characters. Even people with noble professions have flaws.

I think that was the biggest reason I liked The Things They Carried. It kind of exposes that. You read about soldiers rushing into battle only so they can make their father proud by winning a medal, or impressing a girl, or because they're so torn up with war that they wish their life was over. It portrays war how I imagine it really is.

"War is hell, but that's not the half of it, 
because war is also mystery and terror and adventure and courage 
and discovery and holiness and pity and despair and longing and love. 
War is nasty; war is fun. War is thrilling; war is drudgery. 
War makes you a man; war makes you dead." 
Tim O'Brien

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