My Uncle Vinnie served in the Air Force as a tail gunner during the Korean War. I barely remember him. He died from MS about a decade after the war ended when I was still a toddler. I do remember seeing him before he died, shaking from the MS, an auto immune disease with no cure and as yet, no discernible cause. My mom always believed the roots of the disease started during the war, a result of chemical inhalation from the many different toxic substances a man came into contact with during wartime, not just chemical weapons, but residuals from munitions and a zillion other toxins.
But the fallout is never limited to one person. My grandmother followed soon thereafter, a brain aneurysm claiming her life. My mom said she cried herself to death. I can see how that would happen. I can’t imagine outliving any of my children.
It seems trite somehow to say thank you for your service — considering the magnitude of the sacrifices made by so many, and the compounding of the losses through diminishment of the lives left behind — but are there ever any words to appease the magnitude of our collective sorrow? The pain of losing my uncle became less acute for my mom over the years, but the lonely shadow of him was always with us. There was no way to change the circumstances so she learned to live with the result.
To all who have served, or who have loved ones who have served, thank you, THANK YOU for your selflessness. In a country that often puts individual desires above all else, you have bucked the trend and given it all, and we who are left behind have benefitted from your bravery and courage. I hope we can ultimately live up to your sacrifice.
pam lazos 5.30.22