Military Reunionsby Michael Patrick Brewer on Jun. 13, 2011, under Veterans Benefits
Reunions come in all shapes and brands, High School and family being pre-eminent. Sports teams, corporate, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, professional associations et al. But, somehow the reunion of combat veterans transcends all mortal gatherings of kindred souls; even those of old boyfriends and girlfriends.
The gossamer thread that unites veterans of war seems to fly over other collections of pals. There is a bond that exceeds, politics, religion and race–the type of bond that is impossible to replicate, at least until we are all gathered together. One wonders why it cannot be replicated, moreover, why War is its sole source. Hollywood makes millions on war and the alchemy of romances rooted in war. It may well be the reason that many skip to the war memorial page of high school web sites to view the war dead, prior to the more sunny views of our classmates. The sadness of war has a magnetic attraction-sadly, after the fact. Should there one day be a reunion of veterans of peace, we could proclaim that we have evolved.
My recent reunion of Bravo Company/ 7th Marines, in Reno, Nevada, all men who served in the Vietnam War, was simply the most elevating of the past five I have attended. Age is certainly a factor. Many of our Officers and Senior NCO’s are now in their late 70′s and 80′s. I thought that was just WWll dudes!
One retired Lt. General said, “it is amazing how we are still filling in the blanks of a war we fought 45 years ago.” Another, Sgt. Major of the Marine Corps, with 2 Silver Stars, spoke of the pain of leading us into war. He and us NCO’s hugged and cried, wishing and praying that no one would have to endure the kind of war we carried in our hearts for four decades.
Ramble more, I will not, yet if any of my classmates who served in combat are hesitating about the value of unit reunions–shake it! The collective narratives and confessional anecdotes are more healing than all of your solitary reservations. Go share them and be one of the Band of Brothers. It is for posterity.