Heartfelt comments from a son of a WWII combat veteran are very moving…


I am honored to share these heartfelt comments from “anonymous” who’s father served in WWII and recently passed away…  It is once again clear that we all need to have more awareness of the challenges of life after war, and profound human need for forgiveness and healing…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

Anonymous said…

Steve: Your short letter here is very helpful and I’ll look for the book now. I’m 65 and we buried our dad the other day and I just realized he suffered from PTSD based on his actions in WW2 during the four island invasions his unit undertook during the Pacific Campaign. He was a combat engineer and in our early years he would say “I just operated a crane,” which he did and I have pictures of it.

What’s frustrating is the symptoms of PTSD were before my eyes these last four decades, but until he asked for forgiveness during those last hours of his life for “what he had to do” did it finally hit me. He had told me of the generalities of life aboard the transport ships, the tough living conditions, building airfields, bridges, roads, etc and only once of horrible scenes he saw of the Japanese torture to Philipino civilians in Manila, but he never mentioned his personal combat experiences which I assumed there were none, but it was incorrect. It’s a relief now knowing, but also a disappointment in that I couldn’t have figured it out sooner. I’ve talked with my brothers and mother in detail…they understand I think.

Darryl

July 22, 2012 7:26 AM

Sparkles said…

Your heartfelt comments are moving… Especially with regard to your father’s desire to be foregiven. We didn’t know then, but we know now, that moral injury and PTSD does not just “go away” without the process of treatment and healing, a life long journey. Our fathers served with pride and honor during WW2 to protect the freedoms we have today. The pain did not end after the war and often resulted in emotional suffering for combat veterans and families for a life time. It was not easy at first to write our family story. We were all in denial, and my Dad, Vernon, avoided talking about the realities of the pain of 66 months of extended combat duty in the South China Sea before the war, at the beginning in Pearl Harbor while serving on the USS West Virginia, and finally 25 months and 7 campaigns on the USS Belle Grove in the Asiatic Pacific Theater.

Your comments will be shared among countless others and help with healing and foregiveness for all veterans and the families who served too… As a tribute to you and your father, I will post your comments, & re-post my Father’s Day letter.

Warmest regards,

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

ps please write to me separately at stevesparks@centurytel.net if you would like to continue our contact. I am gathering stories of WW2 for my next book.

 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Celebrating Fathers’ Day with Forgiveness, Pride, and Honor…

Dear family and friends,

My 66th birthday arrives soon, July 6th. I celebrated Fathers Day without anger for the first time last year following the publication of my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story. Researching and writing my family story gave me an insight to life after war that never existed prior to age 64. Living with anger toward my Dad, Vernon, so much of my life was painful. It was even more painful after leaving home at 17, becoming an adult with my own challenges, and living in denial about our toxic home life as a family. Once denial sets in the anger persists, but it never leaves your soul. For so many years I asked myself, why does anger persist along with anxiety even when completely separated from the toxic childhood culture at home? Now I know! Knowing is healing! But healing from traumatic experiences is a lifetime challenge.

On this Fathers Day, I can honor my Dad with love and forgiveness. I can also honor with pride Dad’s WWII service to his country. You see Dad didn’t know why he was angry either for most of his life following the end of WWII in the summer of 1945. During that time thousands of veterans returned home from the battle field, and thousands never returned. Those that did return were told, “get lots of rest, go home to your family, and forget about it.” As it turned out, forgetting was not possible, but denial was. With denial the soul baggage from months and years in combat during WWII seeing your buddies die or injured, and observing the horror of extended and continuous combat during the entire time of WWII, stays for good unless it is revealed and accepted. Unlike today with all the awareness and attention surrounding PTSD, WWII veterans and their loved ones had none of it. That’s right, no awareness whatsoever! It was a homecoming without “soul feeding.” It was life after war suffering from the symptoms of PTSD and moral injury, and not even knowing why. “Not knowing” is very painful. The medication of choice, and the only medication for our heroes from WWII was alcohol for the most part. We all know without any review that alcohol provides short term relief of pain, but has dangerous side effects and consequences to the individuals seeking relief, including family members, loved ones, and friends. The legacy of all wars lingers on today, and will until there are no more wars to fight. But we can mitigate the challenges of life after war and the effects of moral injury by becoming highly aware as citizens and caregivers of veterans returning home to serious challenges of readjustment and reintegration back in civilian life. All of us play an important role in helping our heroes live a healthy, happy, and productive life after war.

I feel blessed to celebrate Fathers Day for the second year in a row without anger toward my Dad, Vernon H. Sparks. I can freely honor Dad’s US Navy WWII service protecting the freedoms of all Americans with pride. More importantly, I am proud to share our family story with countless others through my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story. Researching and writing the book was an amazing journey of healing and forgiveness. And so far, those who read my book and this blog seem to gain the same insight to the challenges of combat veterans in life after war. Healing begins with awareness.

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

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