I took my little one-year-old boy with me to interview a World War II veteran today.
It was a complete disaster.
My hour with a Battle of the Bulge survivor wasn’t peppered with interesting stories and heartfelt memories. It was dominated by a an unhappy toddler. I barely got the five W essentials before having to strap a tired and angry child into his carseat and take him home.
When naptime finally arrived, I turned on the tape recorder and went over my scattered notes. The person I interviewed was incredibly understanding. As I read over his wartime accounts, I got slapped with a big old dose of perspective.
America is what it is today because that man and millions more like him went off to war. That almost 90-year-old man was someone’s baby. His friend who was blown apart by a land mine in France was someone’s baby too. And because these men sacrificed all they had, my baby and my friend’s children in England and the children in France and Jewish children all over the world get to grow up in peace. Suddenly, my frustration with things not going as smoothly as I hoped seemed slightly petty.
Sometimes – OK, all the time – the stories I write are far more than what appears in the newspaper.