A long time ago, my mother bought the very first season of MASH for my father to enjoy. Immediately, my brother and I became attached. For each of my brother's birthdays and on Christmas, a new MASH season was added to the collection until we owned every season on tape and DVD. I was the main one with the obsession; I sorta thought of the MASH family as part of mine - familiar faces, that though they were characters, I could understand them and be close to them as though they were real. I skipped the very last episode and only saw the very end scene. I knew what it was about. It was the end - the war had finally ended and people who had lived together for years and years were being split up and sent back to the states or around the world to live their own separate lives and possibly never see one another again. So, today, I decided to watch it, and I bawled more than I have in years. Thank goodness no one else was home.
I once read a book about a young adult who had gone to Iraq for Operation Desert Storm. There he stayed for three years, encountering dangers and perilous adventures that include secret missions; driving across enemy lines in an open jeep with nothing but his helmet, his friends, and his gun; trying to save a group of orphan hostages, one of which was blind; and falling in love with one of his comrades in arms. His best friend died during the orphan event - saving a blind orphan from the trap that the platoon had been invited to - he had wanted to open a blues club when he returned to the states. I cried during this book as well and it somehow ended up slamming into my wall.
Now, I'm not one for war films or war books, especially ones with male leads, but reading this book and watching this series, I've come to realize the creative advantage to setting a story in the middle of a war. First, it touches people. Maybe everyone doesn't know someone who has been in combat or been involved in a war effort, but everyone knows someone who's been touched by the war. Reading a story about a war makes people feel anger, sadness, and helplessness. We hate it, yet we keep reading because we want to see how it'll end. A war setting also provides the author with instant conflict. There's a big conflict between two sides, and realistic ways to kill the characters, give characters thoughts, drive characters crazy. There is also conflict between strangers who are forced to live with each other for unreasonable amounts of time. There, too, is the end. When the war ends, the book ends. This is what drives people to cry in the end of war books and movies. War brought together people from all over the world to live together, fight together, love together, eat together, starve together, and feel together. In the end of a war, the emotion between characters who may not ever see each other again, brings tears to our own eyes, because we know that they probably won't. Or we pray that they will. When war is real, we cry, as civilians, when our family comes home and we can finally be with one another again. When war becomes an entertainment, we can see a side of war from the soldiers emotions, and we cry because their family is being pulled apart. We cry because we are sad the war has ended, because "they" have ended. But we also cry because each one as an individual has learned something, become something, or showed themselves as something different that as they started. They have become stronger, or weaker, or somewhere in between.
The emotions, the feelings, the full out effect of war causes all of us to feel something, and to remember, that there are no sides to war. In reality, everyone is fighting everyone and everything, even themselves. And there are no good people or bad people; there are just people.
Reading: Sunrise over Falluja