The Fireworks In A Veteran’s Mind

We were hypnotized by what seemed like millions of colors drizzling down into the reflection of the lake as the crowds applauded the Veterans Day extravagant fireworks display paired with a musical salute to our nations veterans.  The sky was lit up around us after a beautiful Veteran’s day parade. My daughter said it looked like a box of Crayola crayons shot out of a cannon into the sky.

We were hypnotized by what seemed like millions of colors drizzling down into the reflection of the lake as the crowds applauded the Veterans Day extravagant fireworks display paired with a musical salute to our nations veterans.  The sky was lit up around us after a beautiful Veteran's day parade. My daughter said it looked like a box of Crayola...

We had hurried with our two children to get the best spot near the lake. We were lying on our backs on a thick plaid blanket, I brought to keep us dry and comfortable, with our children between us, gazing up at the canvas of colors unfolding in the night sky.  Sometimes, just like their dad, the noise frightened them, but the vivid display of fireworks always got their attention and stopped them from crying.

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However, my husband had to keep his eyes on the colors exploding in the dark above us for another reason.  If he only heard the popping sound without seeing the finished results, it reminded him of his tour in Vietnam and the pain and despair he and his comrades felt.

When we discussed taking the kids to the night celebration, I told him we could stay home and watch the fireworks on television, but he insisted that as long as he could see the display, when the explosion sounded, he could handle it.

The first fireworks display happened on July 4th in the middle of the Revolutionary War to be a "morale booster.” The celebrations at the time would have also included the firing of cannons and guns, adding to the explosive nature of the festivities.

We may enjoy fireworks but in the mind of the veterans, dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the unexpected blasts can actually trigger their memories of combat and induce panic attacks.

Veterans Day annually falls on November 11. This day is the anniversary of the signing of the armistice, which ended the World War I hostilities between the Allied nations and Germany in 1918.

However, we pay tribute to all of our men and women, who served and are still serving, in the military to protect our great country and to allow us to enjoy the freedoms and lifestyle that we often take for granted.

When I was in Washington, D.C. during the Memorial Day weekend, I saw men stand alone in front of The Wall and other war monuments and weep unashamedly. Sometimes other veterans came and stood by them. Their stories are different, but their painful memories are very much the same. They fought with their very lives for their country and saw their friends die.

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We may not understand veterans who become emotional as tears roll down their cheeks when they stand and salute as they hear the "Star Spangled Banner" or see a flag raised, or their disappointment when someone refuses to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.

They were sent to a foreign land without friends and family; they fought in the dark, in the rain with a gun, knowing they would have to shoot or be shot by another soldier ( who was on the other side) and the only person who could possibly understand their fears and pain would be another soldier.

How did they do it?  How did they keep going forward? Maybe it was the American Flag that was on display in their hearts as they pressed forward while bombs were exploding around them, or the sheer gratitude they felt when each step was completed and their lives were still intact.

However much or little our soldiers gave during their time of service for our country it changed who they were.  My husband said that fireworks used to be so much fun for him and his friends when he was a young man.  “Now, if I don’t focus on where they are coming from, he said, they take me back to a different time; a different place.”

God bless our soldiers serving our country today and God bless the ones who are still fighting the battles in their mind.

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Deana Landers
Author for Morningcoffeebeans.com

Deana Landers has had many roles in life — Pastor’s Wife , Nurse/Health Educator, Writer and Motivational Speaker ... more