The Unasked Questions

A delayed Memorial Day post …

So when I was a kid, I read everything I could on wars.

I’m not sure what it was about war that fascinated me, but virtually every book I read from, I don’t know, 7 or 8 up until 12 or 13 had something to do with World War Two or World War One, with the occasional book on Korea thrown in there.

Who knows, maybe it was M*A*S*H*’s fault. Or The Big Red One, or Tora! Tora! Tora! At any rate, I was hooked.

Of course, rarely do we become the people we want to be when we’re that young. As I grew older, I became less intrigued by war and soldiering and all that.

Looking back, though, it amazes me that I never allowed my curiosity about war to lead me to ask questions of the people I knew who had actually gone to war. Both my grandfathers fought in World War Two, and I did ask my dad’s dad one time about his experiences, but that was it.

All my uncles served in the military, and my brother was in the Marines. Yet I never asked them about their experiences, never delved into the lives they led while in uniform.

We think we know what people have experienced because we see a movie or a TV show or read a book. But we don’t know, not really. Every life is different.

It doesn’t matter if they’re a soldier or a cop or a fireman or a teacher or a basketball star or so on and so on. Every one’s got a different story to tell. I think I lost sight of that in the grind of working at a daily newspaper. Too often it was “let’s get some good art and we’ll work the story around it” and “we’ve got to have something to fill the pages.”

I’m in a place now where there’s time to find these stories and tell these stories. All it took to refresh my desire for journalism was to watch daily newspapers die.

Seems contradictory, doesn’t it?

But my intent when I started this blog post was to talk about Memorial Day. What got to me this particular Memorial Day was a Facebook post from a former boss, relating how his family used to go out to the cemetery each Memorial Day to pay their respects — as we should on that day.

I regretted not taking the time to go to my grandparents’ graves, scattered as they may be across southern Indiana. I regretted not asking those questions when I had the chance.

I don’t want to regret the time I have left.

Share your words of wisdom.