Do Americans suffer from indifference? Maybe it’s not just Americans, but all humankind. We see so much of something that we become blind to it. Starving children in Africa, the War in Ukraine, how we felt on September 12th, 2001. What about the last 20 years of war in Afghanistan, the longest war in American history? We might get on with our lives, but what about the ones who were there? We ask five veterans to reflect and share their thoughts on where we have been and where we are today as a nation. Meet Beau, Damon, Don, and Ken, five veterans, four people, your neighbors.
BEAU: “It’s hard, especially these days. I mean, the war isn’t even something people think about anymore. Not a lot of folks remember, even ten years ago. That’s why I think it’s so important to remember 9/11, because people, our kids, weren’t even born yet. How can we forget that pivotal moment in our U.S. history?”
DAMON: “I’m here to tell you that the implications of war—we’re just now starting to see the scars. Just the way we saw in the Vietnam era. It took about 10-to-15 years after all that, and then BOOM! The suicide rate went through the roof. Nothing has changed.”
DON: “For service members who were in the fight, the war experience will never go away. I think of the ones who are no longer with us and how they carried their experience throughout their lives. In comparison, Americans have a short memory and the ability to move on, where our service members cannot. Maybe it’s denial because of shame for our government’s mistakes. Maybe, it is just easier for them to forget.”
KEN: “I remember my friends who died in Vietnam. They were not honored but despised by the country they died for. But did they die for the government, or their brothers on the battlefield? I believe men and women like me who were there will never forget. It is one of those things that creates the mental separation between civilians and the military. Civilians can forget. Veterans can’t.”
“Never Forget” is a mantra. It is easy to say with enthusiasm, but do we mean it? It seems most of us do forget. Once we forget, then our children become oblivious to the sacrifices paid.