Just Me

Just Me
Look,I'm just sayin'

Friday, July 22, 2016

the ghosts of war

 I am no scrap booker. I do enjoy seeing the postings from a group of ladies that enjoy that hobby. My daughter in law has assembled a few and I think they are wonderful. I have found myself in possession of some pictures from World War Two. These photos came from my Dads' scrapbook. I had taken the ones of him and other family members out of that book. He had taken many snapshots of the " nose " art on the airplanes he flew in. I removed all those and gifted them to my nephew, an Air Force man, as I thought that was the appropriate place for them. I'm certain he will cherish and preserve them. But now I am left with a handful of pictures of the men he flew with. Those names and faces are unknown to me. They are not identified, except in a few cases. There is no way I feel I could reasonably expect to discover those names and find the family associated with them. So, I am the custodian of those pictures, of those memories captured on film. I feel a responsibility. For that reason, I'm thinking I may be a scrap booker this one time. I can not just discard them.
 I'm not certain how to go about doing that, but am compelled to give it a try. My thinking is I will just assemble them as best I can and try to tell a story. I know some of the basic facts surrounding these pictures and the location of some. I have no idea how many made it back home or how many may have been lost. I do know the " crews " were somewhat fluid in their composition. Sometimes only one crewmember may be lost on a mission, at others the entire aircraft. The story I write will have to be more speculation than fact. I wish to honor the memory of those folks. I'm quite sure there are few left today. My own Dad would be 92 if he were alive. If they are not still here, surely their family remains. Perhaps they had sons and daughters. Perhaps they have grandchildren and great grandchildren. All I know for sure is those faces stare out at me from those pictures and I feel obligated. I can not let them disappear. The story will be told.
 After I assemble this scrapbook I'm not certain what I will do with it. I 'll keep it on my coffee table or someplace where it can be viewed. After I am gone I have no idea what will happen to it. That could be said about any number of things I currently have and cherish. Items with no monetary value, only sentiment. If that sentiment isn't shared, it will perish. Perhaps that is what the purpose of that scrap book should be, shared sentiment. I can not share the memory of those folks, only the sentiment that my father preserved. It is a shame that he didn't share those sentiments more than he did. The truth is, those memories often brought him pain and sorrow. I knew that even as a kid when he spoke of those days. I can remember the look in his eyes when I asked those insensitive questions of a child, " did you shoot anyone down " and " did you see the bombs exploding " those type of questions. The answers were always the same, I don't know, I was too busy trying to stay alive to notice. Then he would change the subject. Maybe that is why I feel a haunting quality to those pictures. That was the sentiment expressed by my Dad. And it is he alone that knew the what and where of those pictures, those captured moments. He was haunted by them. Some of that sentiment must have passed to me, as I feel a tug. It isn't the first time I have felt that. Each time the tug gets stronger. More of a sense of urgency.
 Sometimes I get the feeling I should not have taken that scrapbook apart. I feel a little guilty for having done so. Then I remember the reason I did so, to share the sentiment with others. Sentiment is a slow growing thing. One has to be exposed over a long period of time to become attached. Extraordinary circumstance may foster increased growth, that is true, and that would be the case with that scrapbook. To my Dad, it was very sentimental, and sad. I hope by removing the individual components of that scrapbook I can spread the sentiment out thus removing some of the sorrow. I'm certain he enjoyed the " nose " art on those aircraft. Many were painted by famous people and others just ordinary folks. But, they identified the aircraft to those that knew. I imagine my Dad, having just returned from his mission, standing on the runway looking for the return of his buddies. The first thing you would see would be that nose art, did " Miss Mary " make it home. Now all that " nose " art are just pictures of the ghosts of war. Few names are remembered. I have the family pictures and am grateful for that. The last piece, those " strangers " deserve to be shared as well. I'll do what I can.