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The Smell of Warzones

October 23, 2013

Smells are a strange thing. They can transport you to a time and place long past. For example, the smell of an apple pie baking can transport me back to my Grandma’s kitchen. Or when I make spaghetti sauce from scratch using her recipe I can feel her in the kitchen with me. It’s an odd thing, but true nonetheless.

This brings me to a less savory conversation of smell – the smells of war. Combat veterans bring some of the war home with them, even if they do not realize it. Smells can trigger memories, or ever worse, flashbacks. The smells of poorly maintained diesel trucks, a dusty wind, or even the smell of dirt can bring brings these memories back.

Not at all times are these memories bad. For example, if a veteran spent their time building schools or clinics they may bring back memories of hope and accomplishment. Or the smell of a box full of merchandise originating in the area they served can bring one back to that area without any feeling of danger. At its worse, it can bring flashbacks to the worse memories the veteran has hidden in their memories.

Why talk about this on this faith blog? It is part of the Christian Voice on War series which has been posting on most Wednesday’s. To understand a veteran, you must understand why they see, think, and feel. To realize when a veteran returns home from the war zone they bring memories with them, even if they do not realize it. These memories become part of their “filter” which they run their other experiences through. These experiences can be invaluable.

I do want to reiterate these things are not inherently bad. Look at the amazing things the veterans of WW II made when they returned home. They brought their combat learned determination and ingenuity to bear and made the nation a great place. So, as you form your position and opinion on a potential war, remember, the people who come home will be affected. Even the ones without scars.

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