Daniel (Danny) Lance Wright, Author

Monday, March 8, 2010

Italy 1944

Italy 1944

My father is eighty-six and a World War II veteran. He’s on oxygen round the clock due to COPD. His mind is sharp and relishes staying abreast of current events. But, it’s not his command of contemporary facts that’s astounding, although his knowledge of what’s happening in Washington rivals any of the pundits or politicians on the Sunday morning network news magazines.

When I visit, it doesn’t matter what our conversations consist of, it will sooner or later metamorphose into a war story, usually Italy in 1944. He served some time in North Africa but that hardly ever comes up. Even sixty-six years later it’s amazing the detail he uses to tell his stories. Names, places, ages—all the information necessary to tell a story chocked with descriptive nuance.

This past week he retold a story I’ve heard numerous times about a night in a bar with a soldier he knew. It was in a small town just outside Rome. But on this telling, I learned something new.

As usual, he explained the soldier in great detail using his full name, where his hometown was, how long he’d been in Italy, and many other highly descriptive details of the night and the bar plus its patrons as if he watched a movie in his mind’s eye. I was feigning interest since I’d heard it so many times and casually made the comment, “He must have been a really good buddy.”

He said, “Oh no, I met him at the bar and never saw him again after that night.”

Dad tossed out that comment thinking nothing of it and continued on with the story; whereas my focus on what he was saying stopped cold right there. How could he remember all that about a guy he knew for a few hours and a bar he was in once only?

It has to be the nature of war. All the senses are set on edge and pushed to extremes. This can be a good thing in dangerous situations. One can react instantaneously and get the job done clear of mind. But, after it’s over it can cause post traumatic stress disorder at one extreme while people, like my Dad, who managed to preserve relative mental stability, had an indelible mark made another way—acute sensory awareness that keeps people and events fresh for a lifetime.

It doesn’t matter that I’ve heard them all many, many times and will likely hear them all again. I’ll keep listening because it’s not about the story, it’s about the storyteller.

Daniel (Danny) Lance Wright
Author of
"Paradise Flawed"/Dream Books LLC/2009
"Six Years' Worth"/Father's Press/2007
"The Last Radiant Heart"/Virtual Tales/Spring 2010
"Anne Bonny, Where Are You?"/Rogue Phoenix Press/May 2010

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