Monday, April 26, 2004

I am reading Audie Murphy's account of his experience in WW2 entitled To Hell and Back. I watched the movie over the weekend with my kids and decided to re-read the book (I bought it about 15 years ago). The movie is very sanitized with a veneer of positiveness (my word). The book is graphic, the men are rough and war is not sanitized. The movie was made before Platoon and Saving Private Ryan. It is a good film, but the book is fascinating. Audie Murphy, by the way was probably the most decorated soldier in WW2 maybe in US history. By the time he was nineteen he had risen from buck private to lieutenant and won every medal the US Army gives and a bunch from other countries. A few years after the war he became an actor -- mostly westerns. He died of a plane crash in 1971. He had what is now known as Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. He was one of the first to begin talking about this condition and advocating on behalf of veterans who suffer from it. Never having been in the military nor obviously having been in combat there is no way I can fully grasp how horrible war is, but if the accounts I have read only give me an inkling of what it is really like than I wonder how anyone can come through that without ptsd. I guess different people process the experience differently.

I am going to Hot Springs, North Carolina tomorrow. I'll be there until Thursday. It is a meeting with other clergy from my mission network. We are meeting at a Jesuit Retreat House nestled at the base of a mountain. Should a great time. The meetings begin with a trek to the local pub for a pint and fellowship. Looking forward to it.

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