We tend to believe that the wars we fight today will forever remain in the memories of future generations; and so we carry about us, in the universe of our own minds, an imprint of selective relevance, while all the time passing by buried encounters of past generations left in remains of this earth’s bosom.
How many pastures of hallowed grounds do we step upon each day, where centuries ago the Native American fought against a rival tribe? Or in Europe, where fiefdoms were protectorates and knights battled with sabers drawn and armies vanquished? But for ivory-tower historians who dig through the minutiae of battles in times forgotten, what wars are remembered excepting in the minds of loved ones left behind and old men and women shuttered in corners of traumatic memories once relevant, but now shelved as dusty remains in an uncaring universe?
Who remembers the Spanish Civil War (except, perhaps, the dying countrymen themselves) but through literary genres by Hemingway’s reportage, his classic novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and of Malraux’s participation and subsequent writings – all overshadowed by portending events just northeast in the dark cauldrons of Germany’s bestiality and the world marching towards a greater war? And what of private wars – those within one’s own mind, or between neighbors, within marriages and among family members; do we too loosely bandy about such terms, or is it appropriate based upon the level of ferocity and the tactics used?
Perhaps you are sitting around with a group of friends or colleagues, and discussing irrelevant but fun topics of dystopian pastimes, as in, “What if Germany had won the war; what would this world be like today?” (Some would immediately contend, of course, that both Germany and Japan did indeed win their respective wars, ultimately – through economic dominance and rise of subsequent influence; and thus, to engage in hypotheticals is a meaningless exercise of embracing a virtual reality which has its parallel universe in reality, anyway). But in the course of the conversation, an individual sitting morosely in the corner suddenly blurts out, “I was in the war of ___, and that is how I lost my leg – see!”
Would silence ensue, because the rules of the “fun” game were merely to engage in make-believe, and here was evidence of a warrior from a real war? Or, given the same set of circumstances, one of the participants suddenly admits: “I am fighting a war with my family.” Would we take him seriously, or just ignore with aplomb and impassive expressions a deviation from the world of our own fantasies?
Wars forgotten – whether of unnamed tombstones or hallowed grounds overgrown with weeds and concrete buildings; or of private hells within the confines of one’s own mind; they are all “real” to the extent we remember, and vanish upon the last person who recalls.
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must fight against the ongoing “wars” within agencies, and are forced to battle their own private hells because of medical conditions that impact the ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the strategic move in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS of CSRS Offset, may be the best way to move beyond the trench-warfare that one must engage in daily.
For, in the end, the wars forgotten are all advanced beyond by some movement forward – and for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must get beyond the rut of this career, filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application is that final echo of a marching step advancing, in the constant and all-encompassing battles in those wars forgotten.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire