Veteran’s Day: The Memory of My Father


It is Veteran’s Day and I am thinking of my father, and all of those with souls stripped bare by war.

He has been with me much this season, as I have built the large household ancestor altar, taking photos and mementos from my smaller, permanent shrine. There is one photo of him, as a young sailor, looking happy and full of hope. That is not the man I knew. The man I knew is a man that I still wish I had the capacity to heal.

“The Good War” - in which over 50 million people died - broke many men. I say men, though obviously women were affected too. But it was largely the men of World War Two that returned unable to speak of the atrocities, or share their pain, for they had fought the good fight, on the side of righteousness. They found solace in the bottle and the gambling den, in overwork, and the small joys of family. My father was one of these. To blame his alcoholism, and the alcoholism of a generation, on war was not something we ever thought to do. It was some sort of personal failing, or a disease unique to the individual men and women. The failing was really ours.

Thank you Dad, for doing the best you could. I will keep trying to learn the lessons of your life - and the lives of your generation - refracted through the lessons of my own. I will try to learn true power, rather than force, compassion, rather than pity, and the ability to keep picking oneself up, and to sing and dance, no matter how hard things seem.

I will try to unlearn war.

To all who know the ravages of war, on both sides of the gun - for those who fight and those trying to eke out an existence for their families in a war zone - I hold you in my hearts. I pray that together we can create a world where healing becomes possible. For those of us fighting our personal battles: May we learn better to fight and heal from a place of deep love; May we end wars wherever possible, however possible; May we work for justice and for the peace that comes from the strength in our bellies and the love in our hearts.





8 Responses to “Veteran’s Day: The Memory of My Father”

  1. christina

    Thank you for this, Thorn. My thoughts are with my dad, too, and the wars.

    Once again, you make me stop, reconsider. What a gift.

  2. Monica/Ottavina

    Wow, this is beautiful, and my sentiments exactly. Thank you so much for putting this into words.

  3. Nerys Lewis

    Thank you for this. I echo your wishes to my father’s older brothers, who all fought in that war; to my father who always felt himself less because he DIDN’T; and to all those effected by their strengths and choices.

  4. sandrawillow

    thank you ror reminding us of the price that all warriors (even those who fight in ‘good wars’) pay. One of my clearest childhood memories is of my brother’s hockey coach speaking at a school remembrance day ceremony. He had tears in his eyes as he told us that we had to stop war because young men shouldn’t hve to learn how to kill .

    Once again Thorn thank you for teaching us this lesson.

  5. Oberon

    Hi T!

    This was very moving. I see that once-upon-hope in your father’s face, but I hear the pain and damage of his life, in your words. My father did not serve, but also had reasons to drown his pain, as I’m sure many others’ fathers and mothers have. Your writings help us relate, respond and resonate to those heavy hearts, and heal ourselves as well.


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