I love documentries. I am not quite sure why, or how I got to be this way, but I remember that before I got swamped with school, I found myself sitting at home watching a WWII documentry. My sister came in and said, "why are you watching this?...This is like something I watch in my history classes and everyone just falls asleep..." I rebuttled by laughing and saying, "I am a geek okay? Get over it." I waited for her footsteps to lead away from my nerdiness, but after a few minutes she was still standing behind the couch, and just like me, she was drawn into the passionatly violent and gut-wrenching war stories. She took as seat next to me on the couch as she said, Gosh...I didn't even know this battle happened, thats crazy."
We watched survivors of all shapes, sizes and colors talk about their experiences and struggles through the war. A young 18 year-old from Louisiana recalling his experiences as a fighter pilot. A wrinkled man with tears of fear still in his eyes shared his story... a heartbroken lover who left his soulmate back in the states to fight for our country. And then there were the stories that really got to me... the african american soldiers who sacrificed their lives for our country. One of these men said, "we were fighting for freedom in a country we weren't even free in." I had never thought of that before... he continued to say, "We were fighting against discrimination of people, when we were being segregated in our own contry...But we did it. We did it becuase the United States was our country...so we fought."
A few months ago I came across this NPR StoryCorps and it made me just cringe... Newly married couple Max and Kim Voelz served together in Iraq in the same Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit — that's the Army's elite bomb squad.
After his wife was sent out to defuse a bomb that HE called in, she was killed by the detonation. "You know, she did something that most people weren't willing to do, and I don't want people to think that because she was killed while she was working that she was bad at her job, or that she died because she was a girl," Max says. "She did the same job that guys who think they're tough do. And she did it just as good as I did, and I think I'm the best that there is."
When the Voelzes got married they had plans to retire from the Army. Now, at 36, Max says he doesn't have a plan. After Kim died on Dec. 13, 2003, Max was sent home. He stayed in the Army for a few more years.
BUT this is the part that really got to me... "I am an Army widower. I don't think there's very many of us," he says. "And when I receive a condolence letter from a high-ranking government official that says, 'MRS. Voelz, we're sorry for the loss of your husband,' it just makes it seem like nobody knows we exist."
Watching this documentary and listening to stories like Max's gave me a renewed respect for all those who serve in war, and who have fought in these heart-wrenching battles. I went to the Imperial War Museum when I was in London and there was a section of it where they simulated what it would have been like to be in the trenches of war... and let me tell you, it was eerie I could picture it perfectly. The smell of gunpowder, the darkness and dampness, the solidarity and missing of home was just present all around us. I walked through the trenches picturing wounded soldiers writing letter home by candlelight. It was pretty powerful and I left with a deep appreciation for those who have served our country and freedom in the past, and a deep love and respect for those serving our country right now. Keep these men and women in your prayers, they are fighting for US.
Thanks for reading! I promise that my next post won't be nearly as heavy as this one!