Breaking the Legacy of War

Fred Tomasello Jr.
Guest Contributor

First of all, the word “legacy” seems foreign to me, like something that only rich people can do. Or people of power who can implement a change in society that carries on beyond their particular generation and into future generations.

So I thought about MY legacy. My family, my children and my grandchildren from my first marriage are alienated from me so I have no idea, and maybe even dread, what they might say about my legacy. Today, it’s mostly me, my wife and our trailer park.

Yeah, I can look back, far back, and brag about being a good baseball player in my youth, first in my family to graduate from college, first to serve in the military as an officer and other similar accomplishments. But that hardly sounds like a legacy to me.

The legacy I did get from my father, my grandfather and nearly all of my uncles and cousins is war. Up until today, there has not been a war that did not include a Tomasello. I may be wrong about this because there are so many wars that are so remote there could be some that do/did NOT include a member of my family.

Evidently, my legacy was to break that legacy.

My son and daughters did not serve and, to the best of my knowledge, neither did their spouses, kids and grandkids. And that pleases me.

How did I break that legacy?

By showing them my war wounds.

Not just the actual bullet and the scars, but also my rage, violence and hatred about the way we were misused in the Vietnam War. And misused again by our country in the wars that followed. The loving but angry person who fathered them served as a dire warning: bad things can result from serving our country. Things worse than death. If I would have died, they would not have seen the results of war.

“He died in the war.” I could have left a legacy of a dead hero instead of a live, rabid asshole who rages on even more today. There’s not much to be proud of in that scenario.

So, I’m really just guessing after thinking deeply. Someday, if my son ever decides to speak with me again, I’ll ask him why he didn’t serve, thereby breaking the legacy of generations. Hopefully he’ll say, “Because I saw what happened to you.”

My memoir, the first book ever written by a member of my family, covers all of this in detail. By truthfully describing the costs of war, the book becomes a statement for peace. Not a “turn the other cheek” type of peace, but a “God damn you, quit wasting the blood of our patriots on useless, wasteful and endless wars” type of peace.

So, somehow, my son has broken our family’s legacy.

I don’t know if he’s proud of that, but I sure am.

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