I wish I had had a tape recorder (er, do they make tape recorders anymore?), or some sort of recording device going at work today. I have a fun group of patients getting their cardiac rehab on right now. Somedays I try to teach them a thing or two, and then somedays they teach me a thing or two.
I happened to have three war veterans in the room today swapping stories of their days in the service. Some stories were hilariously funny, some sweaty armpit scary, but all were pretty inspiring. I can't imagine doing what they did. I can't really fathom war to any extent that they experienced it. These days, it seems like we have so much more knowledge and technology at our fingertips - but I guess that makes the weapons that much more complex too.
I mentioned in an earlier post that I had recently read the book "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand. She wrote "Seabiscuit" a few years back and I love loved that book, so when I saw "Unbroken" sitting there on the library shelf, even though not my typical read, I thought I would check it out. Literally. It was monumental - or some other inadequate adjective. The book follows Louis Zamperini's life, from an incoragible trouble-maker, to Olympian and WWII bombadier whose plane went down in the Pacific. He survived in a lifeboat for 47 days only to be captured by the Japanese and held as a POW until the end of the war. The recounting of these events illicits a physical response. It was definitely hard to read at times - almost making me sick.
The wonderful thing is the hope and forgiveness with which the book ends. One of my favorite photos in the book is a 81 year old Zamperini skateboarding. Who skateboards at 81? Louie Zamperini is still alive today at the spry old age of 93.
So I get a little awestruck when I hear the guys telling their stories. On one hand, I don't think they think anything of it. They just did what they were asked to do. They are national treasures, and we really owe them a lot. Much more than could ever be repaid, I suspect. I'm glad I get to hear their stories, and I'm glad they are here to tell it.