I remember my father saying goodbye to me very seriously as he was transferred to fly Air Force planes in the Korean War.  I was only three years old, but there was something in his uncharacteristically somber manner that told me he thought he might not return.  So I spent what seemed like an enormously long time in an apartment over a hilltop view with my Australian war-bride mother, and my even younger brother, cruising around the living-room floor in my pedal-powered space cruiser with my space helmet over my entire face, laughing with my mother at Red Buttons on black-and-white TV, coveting Hires root beer on every shopping trip, trying hard not to confuse my mother with other women on those trips, and learning the lyrics of a new hit movie title titled “Singin’ in the Rain” as it seemed to never stopped raining in San Francisco in those years.

And then something wonderful happened.  My father sent me a wonderful complex model of a navy ship from Korea, so large that it its hull could hold a real wooden frame, and so exotic it seemed it could not have been made in my own country.

And then my father returned to San Francisco, not damaged at all, but typically in a hurry to go on with the next step in his life.

But this homecoming was actually a little more troubled than it would seemingly deserve to be.  I had in fact been getting used to being the man of the house without my father, especially as I felt the responsibility of teaching my very little brother how to talk, and I still remember the pride I had in getting him to say the word “refrigerator.”

But with my father back, I was clearly no longer the man of the house at all, especially when he wore that military uniform with all those medals.

In this situation – that is, a helpless situation – I started doing what most children and even what most adult women and adult men do when they feel totally helpless.  I started crying.

But the crying didn’t change anything, except to annoy everyone so much that I was sent to a child psychologist.  I remember the psychologist giving me a lot of tests – like for example, he would show me a triangle, and asked what I saw, and I remember saying that I saw a sailboat.  But that answer – I remember – made no one happy.  I should have told the psychologist that he was wasting his time with his tests.  Couldn’t he detect a simple Oedipus Complex when one came his way?

So that experience I think made me more interested in the functions as well as the dysfunctions of psychology.  And I continued to probe how my father – who had survived the worst fighting of Worth War II – had been even more worried about participating in what everyone assumed was a much smaller Korean War.

Eventually some of the truth came out.  But when has seen so much fighting in a world war and a Korean War as did my father, you have to count on a lot of the war memories becoming congested and hard to move out of him.

But finally, the truth would come out. First, it is always more scary if you are a fighter to fight in a smaller boxing ring.  World War II – for all its horrors – had practically infinite room for retreating compared to Korea, where you soon ran up against the sea or – even worse – you could go into China, if you start to run away at any wrong point.

Second, the fighting was so vicious in Korea because the war was about brother fighting against brother – Korean brother fighting against Korean brother – which was reminiscent of the terrible fighting of American brother against American brother in our Civil War.

My father --- who was so tired of war after World War II that when he came home he did something as completely different as sell Bibles – simply could not help himself and volunteered again when the call for the Korean War came up.  But from the Bible he saw the secret of the brother-against-brother viciousness of the Korean War – “It was Cain killing Abel.”

After 20 years as an Air Force officer, my father eventually became a teacher.  Certainly he was full of impressions from his personal history to share with younger generations.  He really loved Korea and the beauty of this country of green mountains and he felt the beauty of this land helped him understand why both our Civil war and the Korean War were so intensely vicious.  “It was brother fighting against brother over a beautiful woman.  The beautiful woman was their country.”

But he could also add a caveat:  Eventually the brothers would stop fighting each other for the beautiful woman, and like the Yankee and Dixie solders with which he shared his military experience, they would finally join forces again to defend that beautiful woman.

Chris Sharp- Commentary

Chris Sharp is an Educator and a prize-winning professional writer. He has recently published a new book titled How to Like a Human Being . Sharp's latest book is an Amazon Kindle collection of his published short stories, Every Kind of Angel . His commentaries represent his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with or those of The SCV Beacon.