Gertrude Hampton Barringer
I remember all the wars Iíve lived through. So many wars. Most notably in history stand World War II and Vietnam. But the first one that comes to my mind didnít kill people off with fancy lethal weapons (though disease shot down many,) or saved the world from international tyranny (though it did start several vendettas.) The war I refer to had itís name modified in the late Ď30s, early Ď40s. I know it as the Great War. You know it as World War I.
Now why would this war bear so much importance to me? I was but a child, at its beginning and its end. But that war turned my husband (though only 8 years my senior) into a man.
Victor served in the 156th Brigade, 81st Division A.F.F. when just a young man in his 20s. How could a person of that age deal with the maimed and bloody carcasses strewn over the battlefields, the trenches, the hospices? How could he bear the decaying and festering smell of death? How could he consciously take a gun, and point it in the direction of another human being? Men, of course, are not supposed to feel strong emotions of disgust when it comes to war; that would be unpatriotic. But women understand emotion, especially in my generation, when my sisters and I were expected tp provide a nurturing home for young children. Sitting next to a man who boxes up his emotions is like running into a brick wall; you can push and shove all you like but the only outcome will be pain. Bricks and men are quite alike- stubborn and immovable at times.
But I loved my husband dearly, loved him up to his dying day in 1971. But when he passed on, it was like nothing important was being concealed inside that grave. Our union was put on hold but Iíd rejoin him, forever by his side, 11 years later. Iím talking about the war memories and how I fear his soul is too unresolved to pass comfortably into Heaven. He was a good man, of course, but will he ever find peace, even in death?