Reading by War Light
Earlier this week, a story was making the rounds about Tom Cruise saying his movie training was as tough as serving in Afghanistan, but it turned out to not true. A magazine took comments he made waaaayyyy out of context. But it made me think about a soldier’s life during war.
A lot of it was boring. Which is a good thing and a bad thing. Good is that nothing is happening to you, but bad is plenty of time to think about something bad happening to you. And it was like that every single day. Our world was our camp (Area of Operation if you want the military jargon), and we didn’t go outside of it except on truck convoys.
Books became a source of entertainment for us. We had a small library of sorts in front of the chaplain’s tent. It was a cardboard box of paperback books. So not a lot of books, and definitely not a lot of choices. The soldiers would take a book and leave the one they had just read in the box. I’m a very fast reader, so I started out with the books that interested me, plowed through those, then went next to the books that didn’t interest me.
One of those was a young adult book about a boy who had been an automobile accident and his mother had died. Now he was dealing with the loss of his mother and seeing it. I would have never ordinarily even read the book.
The next thing I knew, I was headed for home on an emergency Red Cross message because my mother was dying.
I still have the book. I’ve never reread it again, but I still remember it.