Today, my boys and I had our annual discussion about Remembrance Day and why it's so important to not only remember those who fought for us, but to be thankful that we truly have no idea what war is really like.
The last people in my family to go to war were my grandparents, along with several their brothers and sisters (yes "several", they both had very big families), in World War II. Even though my grandparents never saw combat (my grandfather was the navigator on a plane that took advance recon photos of areas they were not yet fighting in, and my grandmother was nurse at a recovery hospital for wounded soldiers), they were never willing to speak much about it, at least not to me anyway. Although, they were always happy to share the story of how they met at a dance while there, kept in contact until they were both shipped home and were married shortly after. What little I do know of their time overseas came from my mother and uncle which came from stories they were told by their aunts and uncles.
My uncle was the source of this story (my mother felt was I was too young at the time to hear it): when one of my great-uncles, who was an infantryman, came home he locked himself in his room for 6 months refusing to speak to anyone and had to have meals brought to him. When he finally came out, the first place he went was to church. He spent more and more time there and eventually became a Minister. No one in the family knows where he was deployed, or what he saw when he was over there. From all accounts, he never once spoke of the war or what occurred there. I've heard similar stories of soldiers returning, but many did not end as well as his. I'm glad the church helped him make peace with his past. Unfortunately, as he lived very far away, the only time I ever met him was when he presided over my grandfather's funeral (my grandfather died of Parkinson's when I was 11).
War is something that those who have never experienced it cannot understand. Frankly, it is something I hope that my children will always remain ignorant of.