I’ve been thinking about war a lot lately, which might seem odd for someone who writes about the Amish, who practice nonresistance*.
Let me explain. One of the reasons is that April 25th was the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, and May 8th was the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe.
My father is a World War II vet. He didn’t talk much about his combat experience in Europe until he retired—and then he co-authored a book, G Company’s War, about his experiences. I knew before I ever read his account that the war had an impact on his post-war years, but I didn’t realize just how much until I read his story.
My second novel, Beyond the Blue, was partly about the Vietnam War, a war that I literally grew up “watching.” The evening news, with Walter Cronkite, was my favorite show on TV. (Yes, I was an odd child.) I mulled over the conflict daily. I grew up appreciating my country, but it was never impressed on me that my country was right no matter what. I was taught to value the United States Constitution, but to never blindly feel our government could do no wrong. I was taught that whoever held the office of president deserved my respect, and that in the big picture four years or even eight years was a relatively short time. I surmised early in life that the saying, “America, love it or leave it” was based on false logic. That said there were a lot of things I greatly admired about my country, and freedom of religion was at the top of the list.
All of those early impressions added to my skepticism when it came to war. Sure, World War II was justified, but I came to the conclusion that wars to stop the spread of communism halfway around the world and economic wars weren’t. I appreciated the argument for pacifism** by the time I was a young adult (even though I recognized it as idealistic in the fallen world we live in).
Then I met my husband. After we married, he decided he wanted to join an Army Medical Unit. The Cold War was just ending, and he was pretty sure nothing was going to happen (or so he said, maybe just to convince me…). I was a history major though, and I was pretty sure something would happen, sometime in the near future. I wasn’t thrilled about him joining, but I agreed to it and instantly became “the accidental Army wife.”
Fast-forward 30 years. What I’ve learned about this, and so many other things, is that God’s ways are not my ways. After supporting my husband through three mobilizations, two deployments, seven years of commanding Army Reserve Medical Units, countless hours in the evenings and on weekends, and scores of additional trips along with his normal two weeks of active duty a year, all on top of his demanding civilian career, I’ve also learned I’m very thankful for the man he’s become. Largely due to his time in the Army, he’s the kind of man you want to have your back, both in a combat hospital and on the home front.
I can honestly say I’m thankful he joined the Army Reserve 30 years ago. It’s been good for him and our entire family. I won’t say that I’ve always agreed with our government’s decisions concerning war, but I can say that I’ve always been able to support my husband.
Like so many things in life, our military experience as a family has found it’s way into my writing, first in my 2007 novel, Scrap Everything, and now in my latest release. This time I’ve melded my research of the Amish and my experiences as an Army Reserve wife into Amish Promises. It’s about a military family that moves next door to an Amish family in Lancaster County. I explore the nonresistance of Plain communities, PTSD, isolationism, and what it truly means to love your neighbor in the story.
The writing and recent release of this novel is another reason I’ve been thinking about war a lot. No matter whether one is nonresistant or a soldier or somewhere in between, war impacts all of us.
I’d love your thoughts about pacifism, the Amish, and the military, and your own experiences either in the military or supporting someone you love who currently belongs or has belonged to one of the Armed Forces. Thank you and blessings to all!
*Nonresistance: the principles or practice of passive submission to constituted authority even when unjust or oppressive; also: the principle or practice of not resisting violence by force (Miriam-Webster)
** Pacifism: the belief that it is wrong to use war or violence to settle disputes (Miriam-Webster)
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