Veterans Day is on my mind and I have been doing a lot of somber reflection to my time of active duty service. It was a time that I not only lived and worked with a diverse group of people, but it was the unspoken awareness that no matter how varied our differences -- we literally trusted one another with our lives.
I can't help but think about what that means.
We were all well aware, that on any given day, especially serving at sea, we could have been called into a hostile situation. Some days, we were. On those days, I had no doubt my shipmates would have died to protect me, as they knew I would have died to protect any one of them. I'm not talking death in the figurative or poetic sense -- from the moment a ship left port, death, real death, no longer taking a breath, a notice sent to family back home death, was a real possibility. That is a level of trust and devotion that I have not experienced since.
There are no relationships that can ever compare. We were closer than friends, hell we were closer than family -- we shared a bond which defies definition.
The more time that has passed since I had the honor of serving, the more I think about those days and the more I realize it was the last time I actually did anything of deep, genuine purpose with my life.
It is with those thoughts I wrote War Springs Eternal. I know that the military changed us from the first day of boot camp. From the day military training began to strip away our individualistic attitudes and concerns. The day the military turned young people from “me” to “us.”
I set it in WWI because I knew it was going to end with the beginning of WWII. The final scene was a dream which woke me from a deep sleep. The dream so much shook me, that immediately I hit the voice record app on my phone, and recorded what eventually became the novellas tragic, closing scene.
Additionally, the WWI setting gave me a chance to explore a soldier’s suffering in a historical context. My taking it away from the today, it allowed me a bit of temporal removal, making the fictional content easier to write. I was not writing a history book. I wrote a story to help those who have not experienced the military lifestyle a way to become part of the story. In using first person narrative, I took a step further and allowed the reader to become the main character of that story.
I am a non-combat veteran. While I was in one or two hotspots, I never experienced the trauma of combat. Yet, serving soon after the Vietnam conflict, I knew many who saw the horrors of war. Being someone who utilizes the VA system, I see those who have suffered the impact of war. And being one of the few who did serve, the bond with my patients who currently serve, give them comfort to open up to me, and share no only the horrors of what they saw – but what they, for their very survival, were forced to do.
Thankfully as of late, PTSD has gotten more and more attention. However, sadly, only once the symptoms manifest into often times horrific actions. What I strived to accomplish with War Springs Eternal, was the inner workings of the mind of a returning veteran as he was dealing with “The Shell Shock” caused by his actions in combat.
How that a normal life was really no longer possible. And the simple fact that even though he left the war, the war never left him – that for him, and others, War Springs Eternal.If you would like to read War Springs Eternal, it is available on Amazon.com at the following link --
Thank you,Joe Leonardi
U.S. Navy 1982-1987