Joseph Ambrose, an 86-year-old World War I veteran, attends the dedication day parade for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1982, holding the flag that covered the casket of his son, who was killed in the Korean War.

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Most of us Americans, especially my generation, can’t even fathom what war is *really* like. Violence and killing are glorified in movies and videogames and that really skews our perception it. The last conflict that was fought on US soil was centuries ago. None of our cities have been carpet bombed, massacred, or even damaged on a large scale in a very long time. The most horrific recent tragedy I can think of would be 9/11 and that was contained to one section of the city and a few buildings. We literally cannot fathom sittting in a fox hole being shot at, terrified, and having to kill people who are sitting ducks. In fact, my friends think that if they were involved in a war they would be the protagonist hero who kills relentlessly, never misses a shot, saves the day, etc.

My friends actually think that the action displayed in war movies is somewhat legitmate. The last argument we had was that shooting the pilot some 50 yards away in a moving helicopter with a pistol wasn’t far fetched at all. It progressed to them claiming that a wounded soldier would have no problem fighting relentlessly against an onslaught of enemies because they can train themselves to not feel pain.

I’m not even going to pretend to know what war is like but I can imagine that it’s fucking terrifying. I did grow up shooting guns on a regular basis and know how hard it is to actually hit something, let alone a moving target. The closest experience I have to being shot would be playing paintball and that’s nothing. Still, I’ve seen my would-be-tough friends become terrified just from being pinned down behind cover.

I really worry about most of my generation’s skewed view of war. To us it’s just something that happened somewhere across the world that we can’t relate to. We don’t know what it’s like to have to fight for our lives, we don’t know what it’s like to have mayhem occuring in our back yards. I think it would be a good idea for everyone to take a minute, especially on a day like today, to educate themselves on how horrible, terrifying, and bad war really is.

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