his name is joe │ installment 1

Communicating Experience

Words, no matter how we color or accentuate them, are in and of themselves, at times, a woefully inadequate agent or disadvantaged surrogate for communicating the experience of experience to others who have not had the experience; especially those touching war.  For most people words are employed, usually by default, often by choice, and sometimes by necessity for translating experience to others through the prism of languaged communication that is, however, wont to distort, refract and otherwise obliquely reflect experiences.  For the most part, anytime anyone wishes to give expression to experience, experience must be reduced to words; the reservoir of which is compiled and catalogued in languages, and configurable to the common practice of relating experiences, and no less adaptable for the conveyance of one’s thoughts, as far as words will allow.  I shall use words built upon words to unpack the experiences of one certain Joe, a former Prisoner-of-War, a Hero’s Hero. Suffice it to say that words alone can, at best, dispense a cursory justice to the experiences experienced by Joe, my closest friend, whose anonymity is as costly to risk as it is beneficial to insure. In order to relate Joe’s extraordinary experience I shall endeavor to transfer the eidetic accounts locked in Joe’s memory; so that others can appreciate, incorporate, absorb, and validate his salutary dedication to Flag and Country: not for himself, but for those he served with; and by this narrative, I present Joe’s story. Mine is the honor to serve Joe and all whom he represents.

As for me the challenge to communicate effectively, and no less faithfully, is as daunting in scope due to myriad complexities, as it is singular in content due to the voluminous particularities; but in all events, an esteemed privilege conferred on me by Joe. How might I effectively describe Joe’s experiences, such as: What it is like to be cheated out of a life’s worth of hoped for memories? What it is like to be subjected to ’round-the-clock forced labor? What it is like to be forcibly separated from your family and friends for nearly a half-generation? What it is like to be someone’s prisoner or slave? What does the experience feel like to have your enemy threaten your life, and the lives of your children, while you remain a P.O.W.? What about being hectored with torments like destroying all that you own, all you long and dream for – like going home to your wife and children? What does the experience feel like to watch your fellow comrades suffer similar consequences with nothing to offer each other but the faint mutuality of empathetic commiseration? What it is like to fail the one you love without recourse to remedy? What it is like to have the horrors of war foisted into your experiences that reshape, redefine and haunt your life forever?

Joe is constrained by the moral imperative attendant to conscious duty that cries out for the retailing of the immeasurable sufferings endured by his fellow veterans (alive and passed), and the counter-poising pain concomitant with his recalling, reliving and recounting of unspeakable atrocities. The gauntlet that Joe has chosen to run carries with it the potential for him to incur an utterly complete emotional and mental melt-down, as he traverses anxiously up the Everest of his fears fearing his sanity will be swallowed up by an irreparable case of post-traumatic-syndrome, before he can top the summit of his daunting expedition. Insofar as the scores of enlistees that were charged to Joe’s command or consigned to his refuge under the title of P.O.W., as the case turned awry, now, look to Joe again to recruit the command of his voice to tell their story. They themselves cannot bear the burden or sustain, with any confidence, a lucid coherence with the staying power enough to effectively communicate their horrific experiences to a candid world; whether for their own relief and due justice, and as much for their fallen brethren—the source of their festering wounds—wounds that bleed out what little hope remains.

The entirety of Joe’s existence has reached a culminating point where he feels he must enter the breach once more and persuade, and even convince others of their histories. The accounts of Joe’s testimony; are for naught, save the telling, the conveying, and the communicating of their collective experiences regarding their notorious Captor – the perpetrator of great sufferings and untold miseries. So there stands Joe, stepping out from the ranks of this Band-of-Brothers, women included, shall disappoint the avarice, or at least the peculation, of their implacable foe. Nevertheless, Joe aims to succeed as well as help those who cannot help themselves in this regard, for he shall not relent until the Captor who plied the age-old tactic of divide and conquer is thoroughly subdued. If Joe appears alone it is because his supporters are behind him, hidden in single file, ready to fan out to show their strength and resolve, and reclaim their own dignity that was stolen from them by a most roguish evil-doer—whom Joe stickles not to aver that such-a-one is cater-cousin to Lucifer. The day is coming when this Band-of-Brothers shall celebrate their liberation and denounce this fiend who worships perpetually at the Temple of Mammon, which he, the Captor, is nowhere to be discovered in the Book of Life.

 

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