My grandmother was born in 1932, right in the middle of the Great Depression.
Her father died when she was four or five years old, leaving a young and vulnerable family with no resources. My grandmother, along with her siblings were sent to live with relatives and neighbors. The only memories my grandmother has shared regarding this particularly challenging time in her early life are a few anecdotes regarding working on the host farms in which she lived.
As our country surged through World War II and the economy began to recover, my grandmother’s life improved considerably. She became a beautician, opened her own beauty salon, traveled to NYC and Hawaii, and eventually, married a veterinarian. All the material comforts and basics securities she missed out on as a Depression era baby, she realized through the remaining 70 years of her adult life.
Sixteen years. That’s how long it’s been since the terrorist attacks of September 11th that set into motion the cascade of events now known as the Great Recession and Global War on Terror.
Both my husband and I woke up early. While the morning looks like just like the start of any other brilliant day, it’s far from it. We talked about how things would have been different if 9-11 hadn’t happened – our friends that would still be alive, the careers that would have manifested, the wounds of war that we wouldn’t have to live with day in and day out.
I go for a run. I run whenever the realities of life after war cloud my mind. Closed casket military funerals. Jam packed VA Hospital waiting rooms. 87 percent divorce rates for OEF/OIF combat officers. Suicide after suicide after suicide. Veteran caregiver groups filled with sobbing spouses who are literally at their wit’s end.
I run another mile. We’d have a house full of kids by now if it wasn’t for the war. He’d be coming up on a promotion if it hadn’t been for those damn IEDs. I’d never have to sit through another VA suicide prevention class. Our lives as a peacetime military family would have been almost-normal by civilian standards.