On Memorial Day we honor those we’ve lost in the name of freedom.
It is around this time every year that I gravitate towards picking up a nonfiction book relating to military stories; most have been autobiographies. Some of their authors are no longer with us, which was admittedly what drew me in, to begin with. Their stories were highly publicized, and it was hard not to pay attention. They sacrificed their lives for my freedom and because of that, I felt strongly that I should at least get to know them and their story.
“If you brave enough to live it, the least I can do is listen.”
Today I wanted to go over two books and a TV show that has really resonated with me. They follow the stories of soldiers and their families and how they must adapt to various military struggles. I hope that if you give them a go, you enjoy them as much as I do because I believe that they are brilliant. If you have any recommendations, please share them below.
Let’s start with Army Wives.
I fell in love with this series ages ago. I was still living at home with my mom, and while she just dreaded watching the show with me because I would ball my eyes out she humored me and watched most episodes with me. The thing is I am an emotional person and the older I get the less afraid I am of showing my true colors. She’s slowly figured that out and now comes to understand that I cannot watch a lot of things in public—especially scary movies—so at home will do. Having said that, I do not think most normal people will have the same reaction I did. I think she found it inspirational more than emotional
This series follows the stories of various Army wives and a husband. Each is in a different stage in their lives and their marriage and yet they somehow become friends and help each other out through the course of deployment, adapting to living on base, the expectations of them as supportive family members, cheating, and emotional support when they lose a loved one. It is amazing to see a somewhat realistic portrayal of a strong mostly female friendship group playout on screen under such straining circumstances.
What moved me the most was the dichotomy between the determination of their significant others to serve their country, and the support and fear with which each family member dealt with their families. It was wonderfully moving as most military-related shows follow the stories of those who serve and glean over the effect it all has on the family. The family unit makes up most peoples' support unit, especially for those old school individuals that do not believe in meditation or therapy. So it was quite refreshing to see the lives of these courageous men and women play out on screen so heartachingly beautifully.
Honestly, I have yet to finish the series as to me it lost its footing during its last season. I do, however, watch the first season every so often on Netflix and if you have a chance I think this is the season you should dedicate your time.
Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10American Sniper by Marcus Luttrell
I picked this up shortly after finishing American Sniper by Chris Kyle. I think I was a bit overwhelmed by everything he included in his book that I just needed a bit more and I craved it from a different perspective. I was expecting Marcus’s book to be similar in tone to Chris but I was quite wrong.
Lone Survivor reads very much like a novel. It is descriptive and quite emotional. American Sniper, in contrast, reads in a matter-of-fact tone. Both are worthy reads but I think that if you are not a fan of nonfiction due to most being filled with fact after fact and not really telling a story then I think Lone Survivor will suit you best.
It has been a few years since I read Lone Survivor but what I remember most about it is the underlying theme that while there are truly terrible people in the world there are plenty of brave individuals that are willing to sacrifice their safety for the wellbeing of a complete stranger, and one which you do not understand. That is amazing. That is magic. That is why I love this book.
I have not watched the movie, nor have I attempted to reread this book, I might in the future as a reminder, regardless, it will forever be one of my favorites.
Right. So. This was quite a book. Taya was Chris Kyle’s wife. She is a strong driven woman that fell in love and married a Navy Seal. She had an idea of what she was getting into but, truly, I do not think anyone who marries a soldier will ever really know what they are getting into until they are in the thick of it. She dealt with it as best as she could. Of course, what broke my heart was that just when the stress of military life had eased she loses her husband.
I cannot imagine being in her shoes, even after listening to her story. I purchased her audiobook because I thought it would be most powerful experienced in that format. It was quite powerful. If you too choose to listen to this story and tend to be quite sensitive, do not listen to it on your way to work—do so on your way home. While I was listening to it I was hooked and made the mistake of listening to it once on my way to work. It was not pretty.
Taya covers more than her reaction to loss. She touches upon the generosity of loved ones and acquaintances. She enlightened me as to how friendly neighbors can be of assistance when trying to be supportive, and that is to simply stop by to help with a chore or two because the grief can be overwhelming.
She endured so much heartache during his time in service. She unflinchingly supported him in his military endeavors, she supported her family and our country. I am grateful to Taya for sharing her story because I am sure that it was really challenging to relive it all.