Civilian Life

Overcoming the Horror of War

"I saw a tremendous mountain."

"I came home after all the reunions. I opened the door to my real world and I saw a tremendous mountain. I had no money. My education and my life had been put on a shelf. I had to reclaim all of that. And when I looked at that mountain, it’d be five years before I can support a wife. It’d be five years before we can start a family. It just isn’t fair. Everybody I knew was way ahead of me. But I had to-. I don’t know. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t easy and bless her [his wife] heart, she went through an awful lot. Before I discharged, the Marine Corps wrote her a letter and told her that I had trained in violence, that I had participated in violence, and I may have problems re-acclimating myself to civilian life. And they wanted to recommend three institutions that could help me: the home, the church, and the community.

Well I was getting back into school, going to school. Things were not right at all. Nothing I was touching was developing into what I wanted it to be. So I was studying one night, and she came in and she said, 'I wish we could become more involved in the church.' And that set me off. And my response was, 'If the church can add one more hour to my day, I’ll gladly do it.' But she left the room crying, and I knew I had hurt her. And the next morning I asked her, I said, 'What do you want me to do about the church?' She said, 'Let’s talk to the pastor.' So we did. He said, 'I have a job for you.' A job? I didn’t need a job. I had more than I could do. He says, 'I want you two to teach twelve year old girls.' That blew me away. And I said, 'Well I’ll tell you what, I’ll go for the ride. I’ll let Ila do it.'

But I got involved and I found myself. I learned I loved to research. I love to research the matters, topics. I just enjoyed drawing conclusions for the class and so on. And I became involved in that. And my mountain became a hill."