In the course of R's project, she has been emailing her grandfather to ask what he remembers his father saying about the war. Several emails later, the answer seems to be: not much. D finds it amazing that so little of something so big is known. And it really is too bad, to have lost the perspective of someone who could tell you what books cannot: what was it like, at Juno Beach? On the trail through Belgium, the Netherlands, and into Germany?
But then when I read accounts of those who did share their experiences, I can get a piece of understanding why they did not want to talk about it. When we talk about something we recall it, resurrect it in a way. And to recall that hell on earth, seeing what weapons can do to a body - why, when they returned to their homes and families, to the smiling faces of their children, would many of them want to?
I am glad some have shared. To lose that insight would be a loss indeed. But I think I can sympathise with those who tried to regain some sense of normalcy. D's dad told R they didn't want the next generation to think that war was the grand adventure that the movies of that time showed it to be. Makes sense. Unfortunately, a generation seemed to forget, at the same time, just what it owed those brave men and women. And so now, we dig through records in our own little attempt to honor their sacrifice.
Sometimes it hurts to remember; I know that well. But we can't forget.