Just Me

Just Me
Look,I'm just sayin'

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Live to tell

 Live to tell. That is the title of a new show coming on the history channel. I haven't seen a single episode and am not sure I will. I'm struggling with the premise. Now CBS had a few shows with the same title and those stories were about people surviving a flood and a hurricane, stuff like that. The history channel Live to Tell is going to be a documentary series about fighting the " war " on terror. I can assume the setting will be Afghanistan and other locations in the middle east. These are to be first person accounts of battles. That is what I am struggling with. Allow me to explain.
 My father and his generation, often called the greatest generation, rarely spoke of battles they were in. They would tell of the battles of others, occasionally, and of other non battle related events, but in my experience, never in the first person. I , of course, was not there directly following that war and it had been over a good eight years before my arrival. It was also another six to eight years before I could even begin to understand about war. So, let's say a twenty year period had elapsed since those battles had taken place. I can't say whether those men were just tired of telling the tales or if they never told. I can only speak for my Dad who wouldn't tell me anything. He always evaded my questioning by saying, it's a horrible thing war but sometimes you gotta do it. He never admitted to me having shot, killed or injured any enemy soldier. I was left with the impression that war, and the fighting of it, was an intimate thing, not spoken about in the first person. I got that same feeling from the Vietnam vets of my own era. They would tell of the exploits of others, readily, but seldom spoke of their own. Again it appears to be an intimate experience. I will say this, I have no direct personal experience in combat ! I was in the Navy, on ships at sea. My wartime experience is not comparable to direct combat.
 It is this feeling I have about combat being an intimate experience. I do not believe one should discuss such things in the first person to anyone other than those directly involved. I believe to " put it out there " in the first person cheapens the story somehow. It sounds like bragging to me. Now I'm not saying those that survive shouldn't be grateful that they did so but they shouldn't forget those they killed to do so. And that is the problem I have with the premise of this new series the History channel is going to air. Telling those tales, even though they are true, will have the effect of glorifying them. They could serve as inspiration to some, I can see that, but they can have a detrimental effect just as easily. The only thing I ever heard from my Dad and others, war that war was hell but you do what you have to do and then try to forget about it.
 In all fairness to everyone I wouldn't go so far as to say they shouldn't make this show. If the telling of the tale, in the first person, by the person involved, helps them in any way find closure, God bless them. It is their cross to bear and I have no right to judge. I just don't think I'll be watching. As I said I think it is an intimate thing and shouldn't be shared in a public format. To watch would be a form of morbid fascination in my opinion. Yes I am pleased that our men, Americans, have survived to tell. It is just that it feels wrong to brag about it. It is not entertainment, this killing of the enemy, but reality. It is my fear that the distinction may be lost to some and that can be dangerous. General George Patton summed it up nicely when he said, " No man ever won a war by dying for his country. Wars were won by making the other poor bastard die for his. " Is it excessive pride or relief ? I expect it is a measure of both. All of what I have written I would say is a casual observation. I am not committed to either view. I do think it may be a generational thing. Neither wrong nor right.