Tuesday, February 19, 2008
no stomach for it...
I concluded the 5 disc Ken Burns series "The War" tonight. WW II was so big, so dramatic, and so full of death and horror, it's really hard to get your head around. And part of the story in this series is that when the American vets and POW's came home, no one understood what they had been through, or even wanted to hear about it. But to hear these people tell of their suffering, their recurring nightmares, their hatred of the enemy, and gradual healing (in some cases) is perhaps the best way to start getting your head around it. You come away with the inescapable sense that the war fundamentally changed people, for better or worse.
One veteran in the film speaks of his best friend, who passed away in 2001 and fought with him in the war. He had a rough time adjusting to civilian life. He was from Alabama, and had been a hunter since he was a boy. But when he got home after the war he told his friends and family that he just didn't have the stomach for hunting anymore. He had become used to his prey being able to defend itself. Now that he was a battle-hardened killer of men, hunting animals who couldn't shoot back just didn't make sense.