short stories

Brave Men Cry Too

72H

My grandfather wrote for the LaFollette Press for over twenty years. In that time, he saw many changes to the world and the people in it. Yet, he always had a keen sense of understanding of Americans, but mainly those of us that are blessed to live in the South. I, as many of you, have been wrestling with my thoughts lately on what is happening in our world on both a national and global level. These are musings that consume me while I am driving, folding laundry, making dinner, or struggling to sleep at night. We are all carrying the heavy burden of lost brothers and sisters, pondering, “Who is next?” And “when will our time come?”

I have no words (which is rare, I know) to describe how I believe we should handle such terror in today’s culture. So, today I am going to turn over my little corner of the newspaper to the man that had it decades before I ever did. He trained me to take the reader captive, to share your heart, and to love them through 750 words or less. It is a difficult feat, to be honest, and I am well aware that I will most likely never be the writer he was. But allow his words today to comfort you. If we are supposed to “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep” then maybe today is a good time to start mourning instead of pontificating on social media about celebrities, whom to vote for in the Presidential election, and whether or not to call it “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”. It is time to mourn, friends. So, now, I share with you, an article written by Lanier DeVours in the early 1990s, entitled, “Brave Men Cry Too”. :

“Since early childhood I have heard it said, ‘Big boys and brave men do not cry’. For many years, I tried to uphold that saying and needless to say, the older I got, the less credence I found in this statement. Aye, as the years go by, even faster, I believe it less and less.

As a child experiences the everyday woes and cares of life, the breaking of a favorite toy, a friend moving away, the death of a family pet, or perhaps the passing away of a distant relative, so are the days of our lives filled with sorrowful events–events that challenge even the strongest wills to keep from shedding tears. Indeed we find it most difficult to control our emotions.

Even the male of the human species who is supposedly stronger, of stout will, so brave that his armor doesn’t rattle, afraid of neither man nor beast, finds there are times when his emotions get the best of him and his stern reserve gives way so that tears flow from his eyes as rivulets of rain during a spring shower.

This is not a sign of weakness of lack of manhood as many would have you believe, but rather a show of humility, concern and love for fellowman. It is compassion at its highest peak, human kindness which flows from an over-filled well.

When a child is injured we almost automatically hold them close to our chest and say, ‘There now, everything will be alright; your tears will wash away the pain’. Then we give them a big hug, a kiss or two, and almost like magic they do feel better.

Not that easy with a grownup. It seems that they do not tolerate pain nearly so well as children do. Could it be that we are unwilling to believe our troubles will truly pass? Or perhaps we are prone to recall sad experiences from the past when the hurt doesn’t disappear.

I was in a B-17 Bomber Group in World War II, and during the early years only ten percent of flying crews would finish their required twenty five missions so they could go home. Needless to say, after a heavy raid when our losses were great, it was hard to find a dry eye on our whole air base.

To overcome this unknown rendezvous with almost certain death, the men adopted the old saying, ‘Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow ye may die’.

It was a case of be happy while you can; party and make the most of life while you can. Looking back, this may not have been the best answer, but it sure was better that weeping, wailing, and gnashing your teeth while waiting for minutes, hours and days to pass by.

It has now been forty seven years ago, but I can still recall losing my best friend in a raid over Schweinfurt, Germany. It hurt then and it still hurts, for he was a brave young man who really never had a chance to enjoy life. I shall never forget him.

There was a hush over the barracks that night, a gigantic void for which there was no filling. We lost over seventy brave men that day, and our world was turned upside down.

This loss taught us quickly not to get too attached to any of our flying crews. It hurt so much when you lost one of them, and this occurred too often. Yes, I know for a fact that brave men do cry. They cry for the evil that men do, they cry for sorrow, they cry for all the injustice in the world. But also they cry because they have compassion in their hearts, humility in their breasts, and most of all–they have love for their fellow man.

That, dear friends, is most certainly worth crying for! So eat, drink and be merry. But most importantly, have love for all mankind and peace in your heart”.

(Note: This article originally appeared in November 2015 in my column for the LaFollette Press, Letters from the Nest).

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