Today, I turn over the reins of my blog to the extremely talented Rebecca Boucher. If you haven't picked up her short story Panel 35 yet you really should. It's got something for everyone; love, loss, and a lesson on how we treat our soldiers. Click the picture to be whisked away and grab this marvelous book.
Now, to hand over the reins! I do want to apologize about the dirty dishes in the sink. I did plan to clean up the place a bit before you got here but I got sucked into Panel 35 and couldn't put it down.
Memorial Day and Panel 35
I wrote this short story mainly to honor my father. And to remind people that Memorial Day is more than barbeques and the start of summer. It's to honor those who have fallen in service to our country. Not just those who fell on the battle field, but those who might have fallen on hard times, fallen into ill health, or just fallen to the demands of everyday life. I learned from my father assimilating back into this country can be hard, when you have seen the atrocious scenes of war first hand. No one comes out unscathed.
I lost my father fifteen years ago to cancer. But really I lost him long before that. Maybe even before I was born. I lost him when the doctor at the veteran's hospital told him and my mom that he 'wasn't depressed, just lazy. Flashbacks were nothing to worry about. It's normal to wake up with your hands around your wife's neck.' I lost him when alcohol deepened his depression and cut him off from us. I lost him when my mother couldn't keep her family together. I lost him when PTSD wasn't a diagnosis in a book.
But ironically the cancer I hated gave him back to me. He got sober. He got help. It gave me two years, the best two years we ever had, to know him in my adult life. In the end I knew him better than I ever had before. Maybe better than anyone. That's where Panel 35 comes from. It comes from that place deep inside where ghosts can be the living, and forgiveness can be a gift from the one you're forgiving.
The 35th panel of the wall holds the names of soldiers that died during 1967, the year my father was in country. The whole wall always tends to be a religious experience for me. The stories my dad told me in the end tare at my heart. And I promised I wouldn't let people forget. It's time for me to finally explore those stories, and I will, through Blake's character.
As a country I think we need to do more to help returning service men and woman. Just recently news stories have focused on the conditions in the Veteran’s hospitals, and the lapse of care for many of our soldiers. Sadly though this is nothing new. The vast majority of our returning service personal are on public assistance, are facing lifelong health battles, and have trouble finding public sector jobs. I know there is no easy answer to all this. Our country is strapped and finding a way to care for all those in need is hard.
This Memorial Day take the time to volunteer at your local Veterans Shelter or center. Stand and applaud as they walk by you in parades. Salute the flag. Take a brief moment to remember just what makes this country great. Panel 35 might be a fictional account, but by all accounts, it’s my story. It’s the story of every son and daughter who has stood at that wall and wondered what could have been. As there is no easy answer, there is just our support and the belief that just one person can make a difference.
I want to thank Jaime for letting me take over her blog today and tell you a little bit about what is just one cause in my life. Jaime is great. And Bob The Zombie is certainly worth the read.
--Thank you for guesting today. It is a beautiful story and thank you so much for your kind comments. I also want to thank you for sharing about your father, I am so sorry for your loss.