A Letter from the Daughter of an Army man

Dear America,

Every Veteran’s Day I take to Facebook and write something about the military, my dad and how my dad being in the military has affect me. This year I’m bringing that here, so more than just my Facebook friends can read it.

Why do I want more people to read what I write on Veteran’s Day?

I want people to read this because there are far too many people out there in this country who don’t respect the work of our current and fallen soldiers. There are too many people out there who credit the making of America to “fat white men.” There are too many people out there who think military men are just glorified killing machines. There are too many people out there who don’t know the sacrifices our veterans have made. There are too many people out there who don’t understand the things our veterans have gone through. There are too many people out there who don’t appreciate the people who fought for our freedom and still are. There are too many people out there who don’t understand what it’s like to be a part of a military family.

That’s why I write something every Veteran’s Day. But this year, it’s coming a little early to prove a point.

Let me tell you something about me: I absolutely refuse to watch war movies

Not even the critically acclaimed ones like Brave Heart, American Sniper, Black Hawk Down, Saving Private Ryan, or The Hurt Locker.

I refuse to watch war movies because I like to look the other way and pretend my dad never had to go through anything close to that. I never asked him what he did when he was deployed either.

Why? Why do I look the other way and pretend it never happened?

Not because I’m naive, but because it breaks my heart and brings me to tears just typing this out that anyone, let alone my father, would have gone through anything depicted in movies like that.

It’s not because of the gory scenes or watching “death” on the screen, it’s the thought of the person on the screen being my father, my grandfather, or even anyone who hasn’t actually served before, like my brother or myself or just anyone I’ve ever come into contact with before.

No one deserves to see all the people around them die. No one deserves to have to walk into battle not knowing if they’re ever going to make it home. No one deserves to be shot at, blown up or lit on fire. No one deserves to go to war. But of course, the world doesn’t work that way.

Today I’m going to share a story with y’all.

You know how I said I refuse to watch war movies? Well, I broke that rule.

Last Friday night I went to see Hacksaw Ridge.

Hacksaw Ridge movie poster

Movie poster from HacksawRidge.movie

It’s the story of a young boy who refuses to touch a weapon or fight, a conscientious objector, who joined the army during WWII. He was an army medic and went into battle with no weapon whatsoever.

Going into war with a weapon with a rifle is scary enough, but without one? Holy crap. Talk about a real life horror movie either way.

Anyways, the movie depicted the US army fighting Japanese troops in Okinawa, Japan at a site called Hacksaw Ridge; a 350-ft cliff atop which the Japanese hid out in. The US soldiers had to climb the ridge and then face the Japanese soldiers when neither could see because of the smoke from all the explosions.

I watched soldiers get their guts spilled, their legs blown off, and their heads shot. I watched soldiers be lit on fire and stabbed with bayonets. All the while Desmond was running around helping the wounded with no weapon whatsoever and I was sobbing.

No lie, I started crying within the first 30 seconds of the movie and didn’t stop until about an hour after the movie. Sorry to the guy sitting next to me.

I knew I was going to see a war movie, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I’ve always had mad respect for our veterans, but my veneration for them skyrocketed after seeing this movie.

Hacksaw Ridge movie poster

Movie poster from HacksawRidge.movie

We’re in a society where it’s “normal” to hear about people dying and fighting for their life, but you never understand how real it is until you experience it yourself, or second hand when a loved one of your’s dies while serving, or third hand (is that a thing?) like I did while watching the movie.

Of course, I always knew people were dying in war, but because I had fully sheltered myself from the reality of war by refusing to watch the movies or talk to my dad about what really happens overseas, I never really connected the dots. While watching this movie, I felt all the years of emotions pent up about the reality behind war and deployment be released. No wonder I cried so much.

I don’t want to ruin the whole movie, so I’ll just say one more thing: Desmond singlehandedly saved 75 men over a period of 12 hours and almost died multiple times. Can you understand why I couldn’t stop bawling now?

Now, I know that soldiers these days don’t go into battle unprepared like Desmond, and I know that fighting conditions are not exactly the same, but ladies and gentlemen, things like this are what the veterans of our country have gone through. They’ve seen men die right before their eyes, and all around them. Then they come home and are treated like crap by the country they fought to protect. They come home and have to adjust the the normal day-to-day life of a civilian, which can be really freaking hard for some veterans.

In the movie, it even showed soldiers scared of the touch of their friends and soldiers shaking unable to control their body’s response to what they just experienced. I left the theater shaking and unable to walk straight just from watching it all happen from a safe location, so I can only imagine how those men could control their bodies.

PTSD is a real thing people.

Time for another story:

There’s a former Marine in my ASL class this semester, and for the class we have to attend a deaf community event. A lot of the students went to a deaf coffee chat at a local Starbucks, and it was so crowded with deaf and hearing people that it was hard to move around.

The ex-Marine and I were talking to these two sweet old ladies, but he was having a very difficult time understanding anything she was signing and couldn’t remember anything himself. This was strange because he did pretty well in class.

After the conversation ended with the ladies, he turned to me and said, “I’m sorry. I have PTSD and social anxiety so being in situations like this with a lot of people is hard for me.”

A few minutes later I slipped away to use the restroom and I ran into him again. He was going into the men’s restroom, but he spotted me first and asked, “Are you going to hide in the bathroom, too?”

If you thought modern soldiers had it so much easier than soldiers 70 years ago, then I hope your mind is changed now.

Modern war is still war, and even though fighting tactics may be different, or the enemy may be different, people still risk their lives everyday fighting for our country and they deserve respect and attention, and not just on one day, but everyday of the year.

So to those people who complain about how military personnel and their dependents getting military discounts, possible free college education, and free health insurance, sit the hell down and feel some compassion for the people serving our country for you and the people who have served for you.

Long story short, I want those ungrateful, ignorant people to show some respect for soldiers like those depicted in this movie and soldiers like my father.

Don’t forget to thank our veterans, on Veteran’s Day and every other day.

Oh and I love you, Dad.

The daughter of an army man

P.S. Hacksaw Ridge is based on a true story. Desmond Doss and most of the characters in the show were real. There was a thing or two that were changed in the movie, but they were minor things. To find out more about the real story, check out this article or this website. Desmond was such an inspirational character that now I want to eat up any information I can find on him, so excuse me while I go and hunt down all the books and documentaries about him.

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