Lifewriting Old "War" Stories

Did your parents or grandparents ever repeat old “war” stories to you, so often you wanted to shut your ears? “I had to walk two miles to school in a snowstorm, uphill both ways!” “I had to get up before the sunrise every morning and help milk cows and feed chickens, THEN I went to school.” Or maybe they really were war stories. Whatever the stories were, they were repeated often enough that they lost their impact and became boring. Then come grandchildren. Guess what? Those stories are new again!

My sister was telling me that her husband, who had a colorful childhood, had told some of his stories enough that the kids would groan whenever he’d start up a memory. Personally, I love his stories as I rarely hear them. Despite the kids’ eye-rolling, his stories really were interesting and often amazing, something his future grandchildren would undoubtedly love to hear. Would they hear them from their parents? Maybe, but I wouldn’t count on it if the stories had lost their excitement. This is a great reason to write your stories down.

We cannot expect our children to pass on stories unless they were brought up in the storytelling tradition. We tend to find the stories we hear today, the lives we live today to be uninteresting, unimportant. We lived them, so what. Even my mother who survived WWII in Japan thought her stories were uninteresting – everybody she knew went through the same thing.

It is the future generation who will be interested in our stories. Tomorrow will bring progress, new methods, new technology, new history. Our yesterdays will become old history worth telling, worth saving. Old stories will be new again. If you write them, they will read. Maybe they’ll learn a new trick – like how to heat up a can of baked beans on the car engine during a road trip.

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About moonbridgebooks

Co-author of Cherry Blossoms in Twilight, a WWII Japan memoir of her mother's childhood; Co-author/Editor of Battlefield Doc, a medic's memoir of combat duty during the Korean War; life writing enthusiast; loves history and culture (especially Japan), and cats
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2 Responses to Lifewriting Old "War" Stories

  1. Ritergal says:

    Linda, this is such an important point about your mother devaluing the importance of her own story as “common, uninteresting.” Besides, if it is well described, a mud pie can be amazing.

  2. Linda Austin says:

    We don’t have to have incredible stories to be interesting. I like that… even a mud pie can be amazing!

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