Some Thoughts From The Road

While walking down the road today, I had a few thoughts that I wanted to share.

One thing I thought about came from a brief interaction we had with a supporter. While walking down the road today, a man pulled up and asked if we were the Vets walking for Vets. We spoke, briefly, and he wanted to give us 20 dollars to help us out. He told us he’d lost a brother in Vietnam.
When we started walking again, I began to think about how war influences lives. War is not some nuclear particle with a half life. War does not diminish. It never goes away and it never a stops influencing. War doesn’t influence only the war fighter, it influences families, communities, friends, employers, and all those who never even serve. The war experience evolves. Sometimes, it evolves into something tangible. Sometimes, it evolves into something totally different. It evolves and becomes how we interact with friends and family. It evolves into how and what we teach our kids. It evolves into how we change the oil in our car– the systematic routines of our lives. The war experience doesn’t die when the war ends and it doesn’t end with the war fighter. It just evolves and becomes the way the next generation acts because of the evolution of war.
I started to think the only city that was immune to this evolution or influence was D.C. Then I realized I was just being cynical. War influences our politicians. It influences their talking points. It influences their agendas and party platforms. It influences their fiscal plans and arguments. It influences whether or not they’re going to give out a new contract or not.
What it doesn’t do, is influence them to seek out two Veterans walking down the side of the road to say thank you and give them 20 dollars because of something that influenced them for the first time over 40 years ago and has influenced every day for them since. That is what war does. It becomes, as the saying goes, the fabric of our lives. It permeates every aspect, every word. And that is what perpetuates the war forever in us. It has to. War is a defining experience. It isn’t just combat. It’s leaving friends and families. It’s being away from home and not knowing when or if you’ll return. It’s seeing places and things that you cannot describe to people who haven’t had their own eyes on them.
War for us, as Americans, has been on foreign soil during all of our lifetimes. But war does not stay in Iraq or Afghanistan or wherever our next battle is. It comes home and becomes the lessons we teach, the lessons that are then taught, and the lessons that continue. War manifests itself in us forever and then again. There is no way around that. The only lesson we never learn is how to avoid it again. Perhaps it’s because those who make  those decisions have rarely served, rarely have family members serve, and rarely listen to those who have served with any willingness to learn from them instead of exploit them.
War is just forever. For the war fighter, if they cannot evolve with war, then they become extinct. If they cannot evolve beyond war, then every valuable lesson they learned before war becomes extinct. Every lesson on love and empathy and compassion and peace and hope and optimism becomes extinct in them forever. And every generation beyond that would have learned those great lessons misses the opportunity and war just becomes a bigger part of them, too.

Lastly, I’ve heard from many Veterans and those influenced by war that war shits on you. War, and all its experiences, straight up shit on you and makes the rest of your life terrible. I was thinking about that today… Here’s my take on that. I think war consumes you. I think when war gets its eyes on you, it salivates at the very thought of you. War, with every gnash of its teeth, chews you, swallows you, and then shits you out.
Then, politicians scoop you up and put you in a brown paper bag, put it on the door step of the VA, and set the bag on fire. Someone from the VA comes to the door and stomps it out. Then they tell you to get a job and quit bitching.

On a brighter, lighter note, we knocked out 20 miles today and had a great, great day. A wonderful family invited us for dinner and we will be back on the road again. The last several days have been very frustrating just sitting and waiting for supplies. But, we’re back on the road and feeling better for the experience.

See you on the trail,
Anthony and Tom

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9 comments on “Some Thoughts From The Road
  1. Tammy says:

    I enjoyed your perspective on war. I am sorry that anyone has to go through that and grateful for those that do so that we can enjoy our many freedoms. Good luck in your travels.

  2. Caleb says:

    This post hit me in many ways. I’m at a loss for words.

  3. Great post… sad in so many ways, but real none the less. See what a few days in holdrege Nebraska can do to a guy? Glad you guys are back at it. God bless and may he watch over you both closely.


    • Andrew Cegielski says:

      Got your emails Chris. I’ll be forwarding them onto the CannedWater4Kids owner and he’ll probably ship them on Monday. I’ll CC you on the emails.

  4. Andrew Cegielski says:

    It sounds like war comes home like a tick that one picks up while out in the woods. Nasty little things. It’s only natural instinct is to sense warm blood, attach itself to the source, and then just hold on while it sucks your life source. And they’re hard things to spot too, which is why we often need other people to help point them out; to help get them out of our hair.

    The idea of getting rid of all of them, while tempting, is ultimately a terrible one too. One would probably have to be burn the entire woods down. Yet even then who is to say that some wouldn’t escape unscathed. They have the ultimate positional advantage.

    I suppose it’s better to simply keep enough good people around to help keep them off our bodies, which unfortunately means we’ll never be able to keep them off our minds…

    Stay out of the tall grass guys.

  5. Jill Schwingle says:

    This post was so moving. My little town has tons of Vietnam vets. As I was out for a walk yesterday, I looked off into the far distance and wondered how bad it could feel to be so far from home away from friends and family and to be in a war on top of it. The enormity of what you know as it relates to war and politicians can be burdensome. I hope for peace for the two of you and much support along the way.

  6. Hi Tom and Anthony it sounds like you had a tough time for awhile and now are back on road making headway. My God it sounds like you have been reading my poems because those feelings you expressed are what I write . It is because of you guys that people are learning what we the warriors are putting up with and what they can do to help the cause. I love you guys thank you from me and the guys in the over 60 group at Dryhootch . Any thing we can do for you let us know . Jim Hackbarth

  7. Laura Ebert says:

    This is a sad but beautiful reflection. I’ve been thinking about your words for a few days now. You are so correct on how war effects us like a ripple. Peace and all good!

  8. Desiree Solso says:

    Thank you for your service and the sacrifices you are making now to help other veterans. You voiced what I have often thought but couldn’t quite put into words. Thank you. May you both be kept safe on your journey.

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